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  • Northside West

O’Devaney deal gets a mixed reaction

Tuesday, 12th November, 2019 8:00am

Story by Tony McCullagh
O’Devaney deal gets a mixed reaction

Ministers Eoghan Murphy and Paschal Donohoe turned the first sod on the O’Devaney Gardens redevelopment in 2018 after a 10 year delay. FILE PHOTO/Iain White/Fennells

O’Devaney deal gets a mixed reaction

Ministers Eoghan Murphy and Paschal Donohoe turned the first sod on the O’Devaney Gardens redevelopment in 2018 after a 10 year delay. FILE PHOTO/Iain White/Fennells

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THERE has been a mixed reaction to the O’Devaney Gardens deal voted through by Dublin city councillors last week.

Under the deal, which was approved by 39 votes to 18 by councillors, additional units are to be sold to an approved housing body for use as cost rental accommodation. The deal will see over 800 new homes built on the Dublin 7 site, with 30 percent to be used for social housing and 20 percent as affordable purchase units.

The remaining 50 percent were originally to be sold privately by the developer, Bartra Capital. However, as part of the new deal, the developer has now offered to sell more than half its allocation to an approved housing body, to be selected by Dublin City Council.

Cllr Marie Sherlock (Lab) described it as “an ugly deal, but one that needs to be supported”.

“This deal is not the model for how I want to see housing delivered in this city,” she said. “However, it will deliver at least 478 units at rents that will be affordable to many individuals and families who are in desperate need of secure housing in Dublin. The community in Dublin 7 and the areas surrounding O’Devaney Gardens have been let down for the past 15 years with failed promises of development - any further delay would be unforgivable.

“It is critical to understand that this deal was born out of Government insistence on private development in the scheme. Back in 2015, the Government’s condition for funding was that it be developed privately and just 10 percent be allocated to social housing.

“The current proposal on O’Devaney Gardens is the result of huge efforts on the part of my Labour colleagues and fellow councillors to improve upon the original deal.”

Cllr Sherlock added: “Crucially, we are also ensuring a decent employment clause will be inserted as a condition of operation for all retail and other commercial and community services operating in the development. This will ensure all future workers employed on the O’Devaney Gardens site will be entitled to decent pay, decent hours of work and decent working conditions covered by collectively bargained wage agreements. Furthermore, we have secured commitment for a local employment clause along with apprentices to be taken on during the construction phase.”

Cllr Joe Costello (Lab) also welcomed the agreement. In a statement, he said: “The new proposals are a vast improvement on the previous ones – 80 percent of the 824 units will now be affordable and social and just 20 percent will be private housing. These new percentages reflect much more accurately the housing needs of the local community. Moreover, the affordable housing will be considerably less expensive than was first proposed and the price of units will not change over the period of construction.”

Cllr Costello said there had been false dawns for O’Devaney Gardens since the old flats were demolished.

“I am happy that there will now be no further delay and that the main construction work can begin in 2020,” he added. “Already the first 56 social units are nearing completion and will be allocated to families in 2020.

“The influx of 20,000 students into Grangegorman and approximately 2,000 residents into O’Devaney Gardens in the next few years will have an enormous impact on our little village of Stoneybatter – the coolest place in Ireland at the moment. It is essential that we start planning for the future and for an integrated community that can accommodate all the new people and all the new pressures.”

The new deal was opposed by local Independent councillors Anthony Flynn, Nial Ring and Cieran Perry.

Cllr Flynn said: “It is absolute madness for councillors to agree to give away prime public lands in the middle of the worst housing crisis this country has ever seen while we have over 10,000 people in emergency homeless accommodation.”

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald described the decision on the development of the O’Devaney Gardens site as "a bonanza for the developer at the expense of the local community and working families".

The Dublin Central TD said: “Over the last month Sinn Féin councillors have sought to work with their colleagues in Dublin City Council to agree a plan for O’Devaney Gardens that would have delivered a development to meet the needs of the local community and working families.

“We proposed a new financing model and development model to deliver a tenure mix to include 33 percent social rental, 33 percent affordable cost rental and 33 percent affordable sale.”

Cllr Daithí Doolan (SF) said that Sinn Féin’s alternative proposal would have placed Dublin City Council as the lead developer.

He added: “The cost of the so-called affordable housing is way beyond the average income, while the proposal contains only a vague commitment to buying more private homes at market price off the developer.”

Cllr Janice Boylan (SF), a former resident of the O’Devaney Gardens flats complex, said: "Local residents have waited too long. I have met with and listened to community groups and residents. We need a development that has the community at the centre of the plan. We need real affordable homes, council housing and community gain.”

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

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