Thursday 27 October 2016

Dermot Lacey: A shattered dream for residents – Council must step in

Longboat Quay Apartments near the Grand Canal Dock.
Longboat Quay Apartments near the Grand Canal Dock.

Imagine the joy of moving into your nice shiny new apartment in the Dublin Docklands.

You’ve dreams and hopes of a good life ahead. Thoughts of walking to work in Google-land up the road, going to the theatre at Grand Canal or just sitting in with your loved ones watching TV.

Imagine then, that all this was shattered. Not because of anything you have done, but because you suddenly get a letter in the door from Dublin Fire Brigade saying that your apartment is unsafe and that you will have to spend a lot of money (that you don’t have) or else vacate your home.

Well, shamefully, approximately 900 Dublin residents don’t have to imagine that. They are living it. Residents of Longboat Quay in the Dublin Docklands now face uncertainty, not least that of a major financial obligation that they may have to meet. I could not afford to make such a payment and I don’t believe residents of Longboat Quay should have to.

They have been told that €4m must be raised to pay for the remedial fire safety works. That is simply not within their grasp. But they should not have to pay it, regardless.

Longboat Quay was developed in line with the Dublin Docklands Master Plan. The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) was the State body that had an obligation to ensure proper standards and safety of buildings developed under that plan. Residents now know that did not happen.

As a former member of the Dublin Docklands Development Council I was party to drawing up the Master Plan. It contained good quality modern housing – or so I thought.

But it would appear that we did not have the power, resources or inclination to ensure that the safety and building standards could meet the shiny new image that we promoted for Docklands’ living.

I am ashamed of that. I am ashamed at the apparent light touch regulation that seemed to apply to such developments. While this Government has tightened up on this issue, that is no comfort for the residents of Longboat Quay.

Given that the DDDA was essentially the co-developer of these apartments it must step in to help residents.

Very shortly the DDDA will be subsumed into Dublin City Council. It will do so with some residual assets and some liabilities. The works required at Longboat Quay is one of those liabilities. Also, the receiver for the developer controls 18 apartments in the complex and some of the proceeds from their sale should assist in the payment for the overall works.

But it is now up to the remnants of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and its successor,  Dublin City Council, to step up to the plate. Carry out the works and pay the bill.

Dermot Lacey is a Labour member of Dublin City Council

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