herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Residents angry at new charges for fire safety work at Dockland homes

Longboat Quay Apartments near dublin's Grand Canal Dock.
Longboat Quay Apartments near dublin's Grand Canal Dock.

RESIDENTS of a Dublin Docklands apartment complex are angry and disappointed that construction flaws have made their homes unsafe.

Work is continuing at the Longboat Quay development on the southside of the Liffey to replace the fire alarm system and fix structural deficiencies in the two six-storey blocks.

A number of residents who purchased their homes through an affordable housing scheme said they were deeply unhappy at having to pay additional fees to fund part of the remedial work.

"We've been given no choice about having to pay more every year for this work. We're very unhappy about this," said mother-of-two Sandra Gregg (42).

Outrageous

Her neighbour, Ruth Kenny (41), a mother-of-four, said: "It's outrageous. We'll be paying an extra €150 a year for the next four years. We've enough bills on our plate without having to pay more."

Almost 300 apartments in the development were built eight years ago by former developer Bernard McNamara who later went bankrupt. Most were sold to private buyers and some cost more than €500,000.

Serious shortcomings were discovered in an inspection last summer, including some walls deemed inadequate to contain a fire and an absence of some smoke vents needed if a fire broke out.

Consultations with Dublin Fire Brigade resulted in an evacuation of the blocks being avoided on condition that fire warden patrols were implemented.

One couple said their annual management fee for their one-bedroom apartment was increased by €200 a year to €1,200 for the next four years to pay for some of the work.

"This is not a case of another Priory Hall... It's not a case of taking money from the taxpayer," said a 34-year-old female resident.

Local TD Kevin Humphreys, Minister of State at the Department of Social Protection, told the Herald of discussions between the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), the receiver, and the management company about resolving the issues.

"As far as I know the DDDA and the receiver have put money forward and are working with the management company to resolve the fire alarm issue," he said.

"The DDDA is putting a sum of money forward to do a survey to ascertain what other issues need to be resolved. Until we know exactly what other outstanding works, or if any other outstanding works need to be done, nobody is in a position to say what kind of costs there will be or who should pick up the bill," said the minister.

"The DDDA has a responsibility as the planning authority... and the receiver, in relation to the liabilities, has a role there. The main thing to do is to make sure the apartments are safe. It is my understanding at the moment that they are. That the fire alarms have been addressed... I will continue to be actively involved in trying to get a fair resolution.

Deplorable

"The whole area of deregulation of the building industry, to me, was just deplorable and people are being left now saddled with these legacy issues," he added.

A DDDA spokesman said a programme of work was agreed with all relevant authorities, including Dublin Fire Brigade. Work on the fire alarm system was nearing completion.

"Other structural work will commence in due course to address other issues. All parties have agreed that the programme of works can be amended as necessary," he said.

"We are advised that it will be possible to complete the vast majority of this work without any residents having to leave their apartments... some apartments may need to be vacated for a night or two," he said.

Local councillors Dermot Lacey, Mannix Flynn and Kieran Binchy all expressed support for the residents.

aokeeffe@herald.ie

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