Ballymun bids farewell to another block of flats

Sat, Jan 7, 2012, 00:00

COMPLETION OF the €2 billion regeneration of Ballymun in north Dublin has moved a step closer with the start of demolition of one of the last remaining blocks of council flats.

The eight-storey flats at Sillogue will be the 29th block demolished since the regeneration of Ballymun began more than a decade ago. Just seven blocks of flats will remain once the demolition is completed later this month. The demolition of the Sillogue block will be followed in March by the demolition of the final block in Coultry.

Later this year, and possibly stretching into the beginning of 2013, the last two remaining blocks in Sillogue and final block on Shangan Road will be knocked.

The final three blocks, which include two eight-storey blocks at Balbutcher Lane and the last 15-storey tower, Joseph Plunkett Tower, are due for demolition at the end of 2013 and beginning of 2014. Joseph Plunkett Tower will be the last demolition as part of the regeneration scheme which began in 1997.

More than 1,600 new social houses and apartments have so far been built to accommodate the residents of the 2,600 prefabricated flats built from 1965 to 1969. About 250 families remain in six blocks.

Three housing schemes due for completion this year will rehouse 215 families from the flat blocks, with the remaining tenants, most of whom will be living in Joseph Plunkett Tower, due to be transferred next year.

The final cost of the regeneration scheme is expected to come in at just under €2 billion, half of which will be public money, with the rest accounted for by private funding. More than 1,400 private homes have been built as part of the regeneration. When the scheme is complete there will be more than 4,600 new homes, about half of which will be public housing.

Dublin City Council plans to spend €46.8 million (through Ballymun Regeneration Ltd) in 2012, €49.3 million in 2013 and €21.4 million in 2014 to complete the project, subject to Department of the Environment approval.

The council said it is on course to meet this completion target. However, the project has not been without its difficulties. When the master plan for the regeneration was devised in 1997 the project was due to be completed in 2006 with €442 million in public money spent. Delays began from the planning stage due to legal challenges and were compounded in the early years of demolition by deficiencies in the mapping of existing utilities such as mains pipes and underground electrical cables and the discovery of asbestos.

Costs also mounted due to the overheating of the construction sector. By early 2008 a revised completion date of 2012 was set and a new cost estimate of €942 million of public funds. Just one year later cuts in government funding meant a new completion date of 2014 had to be set.

Since then the council has been hit with the discovery of the defective building material pyrite in 274 newly built houses and apartments. The council will initially bear the cost of remediation, likely to be in excess of €10.5 million, but is considering legal action to recoup the money.