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  • Northside West

Mixed views on O'Devaney plans

Monday, 16th September, 2019 8:00am
Mixed views on O'Devaney plans

The original O’Devaney Gardens had 272 flats spread across 13 four-storey blocks.

Mixed views on O'Devaney plans

The original O’Devaney Gardens had 272 flats spread across 13 four-storey blocks.

DUBLIN City Council plans for development of the O’Devaney Gardens site met with a mixed reception last week.

Local councillors were briefed on the plans at a council meeting where it was confirmed that the preferred bidder was Bartra Capital Property Group.

Under the plans, a mix of 824 private, social and affordable homes will be available on the site. Affordable homes will be sold at prices discounted at between 30-40 percent from market rates and costing from €237,000 for a one-bed unit up to €420,000 for a three-bed apartment.

The developer will be asked to sell the affordable homes at the agreed price to families nominated under the terms of the council’s Affordable Housing Scheme.

There will be no studio apartments, no shared accommodation and no student accommodation in the development and no design difference between social, private or affordable homes.

Dublin City Council says that while the process involves a private developer, it’s designed to get the best possible deal for the city.

“Dublin City Council is not selling this site and is certainly not ‘giving it away’,” the report into the housing land initiative for O`Devaney Gardens states.

“We are entering into a comprehensive development agreement with the preferred bidder to deliver what was approved by city councillors in January 2017.”

However, Workers' Party representative in the area, Éilis Ryan, claims the affordable homes will only be affordable to the richest 30 percent of households.

"The estimates given by the city council indicate that even the publically subsidised affordable homes on O'Devaney Gardens will start from €275,000 for a two bed apartment,” she said.

“To get a mortgage for this, a household would need to earn over €70,000 a year. That excludes the overwhelming majority of Dublin households - some 70 percent.

"And meanwhile the unsubsidised housing will be some 40 percent more expensive, putting it out of the reach of all but the elite and landlords. This is an atrocious waste of public land and money."

Cllr Alison Gilliland (Lab) said the report and proposal for O’Devaney Gardens while not ideal was “very welcome” and pointed out that the history of the development was complex.

“The background and context of this proposal is key to understanding its tenure, funding and development mechanism,” she said.

“While the last council succeeded in increasing funding, from the then Minister for Housing, Simon Coveney, from 10 percent to 30 percent for social housing alongside a commitment to support 20 percent for affordable housing, I recognise that the development negotiations fell well short of the ideal of public land being used for public housing.

“The need to engage with the private market to design and deliver the development further compounded the frustrations of myself and many of my colleagues on the council. The entire process highlights the gapping lack of autonomy, building capacity and capital funding at local authority level.

“However, I also recognise that we are where we are and that an attractive concrete proposal is now on the table.”

Councillors will now examine details of the plans over the coming weeks before voting on a proposal next month.

O’Devaney Gardens was originally developed as a single tenure social housing scheme in 1954, with 272 apartments over 13 four-storey blocks.

The complex was approved for demolition and redevelopment under a Public-Private Partnership (PPP) between the City Council and a developer in 2004 but the proposal collapsed in 2008 following the economic downturn.

Despite the collapse of the PPP proposal, the de-tenanting of the remaining units continued until the last residents were re-housed in 2018, after which the final blocks were demolished.

Council policy has shifted from the Public-Private Partnership model and a ‘Competitive Dialogue Process’ was identified as the most appropriate procedure for the O’Devaney Gardens site.

The procedure ensures a tenure mix set at 50 percent private, 30 percent social and 20 percent affordable housing while land ownership remains under DCC control until each phase is complete to ensure no speculative profiteering takes place.

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