Lack of affordable housing scheme could delay 1,600 homes
€600m development in Dublin cannot proceed until Government sets up scheme
The ‘mixed tenure’ developments have been designated for 50 per cent private homes, 30 per cent social housing and 20 per cent affordable housing. Photograph: Jason Alden/Bloomberg
The Government’s failure to establish an affordable housing scheme could delay the €600 million development of more than 1,600 homes in Dublin, it has emerged.
Dublin City Council is ready to go to tender for the development of 1,644 homes at three sites it owns in the city, according to a report from its housing department.
The “mixed tenure” developments at O’Devaney Gardens, St Michael’s Estate and Oscar Traynor Road have been designated for 50 per cent private homes, 30 per cent social housing and 20 per cent affordable housing.
However, the council said that despite a commitment from the Government to establish an affordable housing scheme, no such scheme yet exists and further delays to setting up a scheme will “necessarily result in delays to the procurement” of the new homes.
The State funded affordable housing scheme, which allowed first-time buyers on lower incomes to buy homes at a discount, was discontinued in 2011. The introduction of a new scheme was announced almost two years ago as part of budget 2016, but no scheme has been set up.
The agreement that 20 per cent of the houses and apartments, approximately 330 homes over the three sites, would be affordable housing “was done in the context of an expectation that some type of a national affordable housing scheme would be introduced by Government,” the council said. “No such scheme has been introduced.”
The council is ready to put the schemes to the market and wants to award contracts for the three sites, on a staggered basis starting with O’Devaney Gardens, by the end of the year. However it said major questions remain concerning the affordable housing element.
“An essential step and one which the Housing Land Initiative team have spent much energy and effort exploring, is to define, agree, negotiate, etc an affordable tenure: how would it work? Who is eligible? Who pays? And how can it be incorporated into the procurement process and eventually into the delivery agreement with the winning bidder,” the council said.
“The entire procurement process will be dependent on successfully designing a scheme which answers the above questions, so any delay in defining a scheme will necessarily result in delays to the procurement process,” it said.
Former council flats
Two of the sites – O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7 and St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore – are former council flat estates. At O’Devaney Gardens, 584 homes are planned, 101 of which will be houses, with the rest apartments in blocks of four to five storeys. The council plans 422 more homes at St Michael’s Estate, all of which will be apartments or duplexes.
The largest plot, 17 hectares at the Santry end of Oscar Traynor Road, is not a former social housing development, but was bought by the council in the 1980s and has been the subject of several proposals that never came to fruition.
It has been designated for 640 homes, more than 80 per cent of which will be apartments, including some duplex units, in blocks of up to six storeys.