Demolition to start at Dublin flats complex


DEMOLITION OF one of Dublin’s most neglected flats complexes is to begin more than three years after regeneration plans were abandoned.

City councillors last night approved plans for the demolition of two housing blocks at St Teresa’s Gardens in Dolphin’s Barn in the south inner city which no longer have tenants and are in poor condition.

The 1950s complex of 16 blocks of flats is now in an advanced stage of decay with persistent sewerage and damp problems. The estate has also been blighted with drugs and criminal activity.

The blocks to be demolished were “very badly damaged” and sources of “anti-social behaviour”, executive manager with Dublin City Councils housing services Peter Ayton said at last night’s council meeting.

This would be the first phase of the area’s redevelopment, he said. The council would show residents new drawings for the area but it would be a while before the full master plan was ready, he said.

The council last March submitted regeneration proposals to the Department of the Environment and is now in discussions with the department over the options for the estate.

The plans centre around the demolition of most of the flat blocks and their replacement with a smaller number of social housing units. A formal master plan for the lands will have to be submitted to the department before funding is committed.

Sinn Féin councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh said unfortunately it was only a “very small phase of what was to be a big regeneration plan”.

She urged the city manager to put pressure on the Minister for the Environment about releasing the funding for the first phase of the regeneration. The conditions at St Teresa’s Gardens were “unacceptable”, she said.

The complex was to have been demolished and replaced with 300 social and affordable units, 300 private apartments, retail and commercial units, and community buildings.

A regeneration board for the work was established in December 2005 and spent several years working on a master plan for the redevelopment.

The council put the project out to tender as a public private partnership (PPP) and in 2008 selected four preferred bidders who were to present designs for the development.

The subsequent collapse of five similar flat regeneration schemes, due to have been built by developer Bernard McNamara, put the St Teresa’s Gardens regeneration in doubt, but three bidders remained in the running until mid-2009 to rebuild the estate.

However, by the end of the summer of that year, it had become clear the project as envisaged was not going to progress and the council announced that the PPP plans were to be abandoned.

Conditions in the estate, which is beside the Coombe maternity hospital, worsened following the collapse of the regeneration plan.

A maintenance survey conducted by the estate’s regeneration board in 2010 identified serious structural and maintenance problems, including sewage in baths and sinks, flooding and vermin infestations. Rats were reported in nine blocks of flats.

Most of the flats in the estate are in blocks of four storeys, but the two blocks earmarked for demolition are two storeys in height. These units have been vacant for some time and are described as “derelict” by the council.