herald

Saturday 17 November 2018

Decision on 975-home land sale delayed after angry council meeting

Protesters to the plan
Protesters to the plan

A decision on building 975 homes near Clondalkin has been delayed after a divisive vote by councillors.

Increased security and uniformed gardai were in the public gallery of South Dublin County Council's offices yesterday during the heated debate.

A protest against the land being sold to a private developer also took place outside the Tallaght premises.

The 29.5 hectares of land in question is The Grange in Kilcarbery, owned by the local authority. The council is planning to sell the land to a developer to build the 975 homes - of which 294 will be social.

The other 681 will be sold on the open market. The developer will pay market price for the public land.

Affordable

Some councillors feel that more social, affordable rent and affordable purchase properties should be made available.

They are worried nothing will be available for affordable rent or affordable purchase when they are completed, as there is no guarantee on prices.

However, others believe that further delays in the project could jeopardise its survival.

The motion to defer a decision on the proposed sale by a month was passed by 20 votes to 13.

It is hoped that this time will be used by the county management to secure an agreement from the Department of Housing to pay for the development through revenue and European Investment Bank funding.

"Unfortunately the proposal does not provide any affordable housing for working families," said Sinn Fein group leader Cathal King.

"While the detail of the scheme in terms of housing, social mix, community facilities and land for a new school are all positive, the absence of any affordable housing is a problem.

"Right across South Dublin there is an urgent need for affordable homes for households earning between €45,000 and €75,000.

"This means homes for sale at prices between €170,000 and €260,000. This can only be achieved if the development is publicly funded either via exchequer funding or a loan facility."

However, Fine Gael's William Lavelle, who voted in favour of the motion, accused Sinn Fein of "crass hypocrisy".

"The council has proposed housing at a sustainable scale with a sustainable mix of private and social units, both of which are required in response to the housing crisis," he said.

"It shows the crass hypocrisy of Sinn Fein that they claim to want urgent responses to the housing crisis while delaying 975 new homes on council- owned lands, possibly for up to 18 months or more.

"I have not subscribed to the views of those who blame the councils for the housing crisis. But regrettably the disappointing and hypocritical decision by the Sinn Fein-led council have given succour to those views."

The protest was organised by the Demand for Public Housing group, involving dozens of homeless families and supporters.

Margaret Cash, the mother-of-seven who made headlines after she released photos of her family sleeping in a garda station, was among them.

Disgrace

She told the Herald that the Government has to take immediate action and solve the housing crisis once and for all.

"It's an absolute disgrace," she said. "There are more homeless people now than ever before. The Government keeps saying the economy is improving. Maybe for them, but what about the thousands of people sleeping rough or in hotels?

"They just don't care, and only people power can convince them of taking the action needed to solve this mess."

Ms Cash and her family now live in a B&B in Drumcondra.

They had moved into a three-bed apartment in Dublin city centre after being told they could have it for a week on a trial basis. But just days after council chiefs promised it could be a long-term home, Ms Cash was "heartbroken" to hear they had to move on.

Officials admitted there had been a booking "error".

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