herald

Sunday 17 November 2019

Protests as O'Devaney Gardens housing deal is approved by council

The O’Devaney Gardens site has lain derelict for years
The O’Devaney Gardens site has lain derelict for years

Protesters stormed the Dublin City council chamber last night as a vote to approve a controversial housing deal for O'Devaney Gardens was passed.

Councillors voted 39 to 18 in favour of the new deal struck with developer Bartra Capital.

However, it will require extra funding of over €60m.

Just before the proposal was approved, members from various housing action groups entered the chamber and disrupted proceedings.

Demonstrators could be heard shouting "shame on you" to councillors who spoke in favour of the new deal.

Dublin Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe condemned their actions as he asked gardai and security to remove them.

"You have disrupted the democratic process. This chamber will not be bullied," he said.

Housing

The now-demolished apartment complex was originally developed as a social housing scheme in 1954.

It had been approved for demolition and redevelopment in a deal between the city council and a private developer in 2008. However, that collapsed and the buildings have lain derelict ever since.

The new deal with Bartra Capital for more than 800 homes at the site has also faced obstacles.

A council report revealed that affordable homes proposed for the site would cost an average of €300,000, with some three-bedroom apartments priced at €420,000.

After much opposition from councillors, the council decided to defer the vote on the development.

It was passed last night after a majority group of Fianna Fail, Green Party, Labour Party and Social Democrats councillors came to an agreement with the developer.

Representatives from each party - collectively known as the Dublin Agreement City Councillors - stated that "this is not a perfect plan" at least seven times before calling for Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy to resign.

The new proposal reduces the maximum "affordable" purchase price to €310,000, with 80pc of all new units designated social and affordable - an increase of 30pc from the first proposal.

It will now be 30pc social, 30pc affordable rental, 20pc affordable purchase and 20pc private purchase.

The group said it secured a commitment from the developer to sell 30pc of the properties to an approved housing body, which will raise funds for the purchase.

As yet, no housing body has agreed to buy the homes.

Social Democrats councillor Gary Gannon acknowledged this was not the way he would have preferred the deal to go.

"This isn't a perfect deal and we're not going to try to convince you that it is," he said.

"What we've done is make the best of an imperfect situation, but the deal we're bringing to council will benefit the citizens of Dublin.

Tough

"Politics is about tough decisions, and we've come to the conclusion that this is a good deal for the city.

"It's an absolute travesty that in order to build public housing on publicly-owned land we must line the pockets of developers, but such is the nature of the ideological disposition that exists in the Department of Housing at the moment."

A number of councillors opposing the deal were pushing for the development to contain only social housing due to the ongoing homelessness crisis.

Cllr Anthony Flynn, founder of Inner City Helping Homeless, said the deal only benefits the developer.

"Hundreds of emails have come in over the last month from residents within the area requesting councillors not to sell this land," he said.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News