Sunday 15 September 2019

Reclaim land from the sea - how developer Harry Crosbie would solve the housing crisis

Mr Crosbie says that his idea would create homes for 65,000 people

Developer Harry Crosbie. Photo: David Conachy
Developer Harry Crosbie. Photo: David Conachy
Marian Finucane

Niamh Lynch

Docklands developer Harry Crosbie has called for land to be reclaimed from the sea in Dublin to help house 65,000 people and defeat the housing crisis.

Speaking on the Marian Finucane Show, Mr Crosbie said he had recently become aware of the extent of the housing crisis.

It affects a “huge numbers of young people who can’t buy a house - the sons and daughters of people who work in RTÉ, people whose fathers are barristers, solicitors, people who’ve worked hard in exams and got the marks”, he said.

“It’s getting worse and worse and worse and it’s going to become an enormous crisis,” added Mr Crosbie.

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Marian Finucane

The developer is proposing that the inlet next to Clontarf be transformed into 250 acres of land where four-, six- and eight-storey housing blocks would be built. In the Netherlands polders are a piece of land in a low-lying area that has been reclaimed from a body of water by building dikes and drainage canals.

Mr Crosbie also suggested diverting the River Tolka and creating a Luas line to the area from The Point stop.

He said a number of specialists in this type of construction have offered to help with reclaiming land from the sea.

“You’d do away with all this stupid nonsense of social housing, affordable housing, whatever... This would become a place you would die to live in.”

Mr Crosbie also suggested that the development bypass normal planning regulations, and that the resulting apartments should be free of stamp duty, as well as Vat being removed from the materials used in the construction.

“This would only work if the Government comes in completely behind it. We’d need to have direct access into the Taoiseach’s office,” he said.

Mr Crosbie said he had not consulted senior Government officials about the plan.

In addition, Mr Crosbie proposed that a buyer could only purchase one house in the development to keep prices down. However, an acre in the development would be worth €25m, he added.

“This isn’t about disadvantaged people, this is about our children, your children.

"Years ago, people like you and I would’ve helped our kids to buy a house in Ringsend, or Rialto, or Fairview - that’s gone, those houses are out of reach now,” said Mr Crosbie.

When challenged on the environmental issues with the plan - the adjacent North Bull Island was declared a Unesco biosphere reserve in 1981 - Mr Crosbie said: “There will have to be a compromise found at some time between birds and people.”

The developer also confirmed to Ms Finucane that he was working on two hotels in the capital.

READ MORE: Crosbie gets the go-ahead for new eight-storey hotel on Vicar Street

Mr Crosbie’s comments come after the President of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) David Browne called for a development to be considered for Sandymount Strand. Mr Crosbie described Mr Browne’s idea as a “bridge too far”. 

Mr Crosbie was behind the transformation of the Dublin Docklands, developing the Three Arena, the Gibson Hotel and the Bord Gais Energy Theatre. However, after the onset of the financial crisis, many of his assets and debts were seized by Nama.

Despite this, Mr Crosbie dispensed advice for young entrepreneurs: “Don’t believe the bulls**t. Don’t play golf with your bank manager - he’s not your chum.”

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