Park zoned for St Teresa’s Gardens despite regeneration warning

Councillors eye land for park and sports despite Department of Housing advice

The demolition of the final block in the current regeneration phase of St Teresa’s Gardens has taken place.The 1950s complex is being demolished as part of a Dublin City Council social housing regeneration scheme. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Dublin city councillors have zoned lands at St Teresa’s Gardens in Dolphin’s Barn for a public park and sporting facilities, despite warnings from the Department of Housing and senior council officials it would jeopardise the regeneration of the complex.

The dilapidated 1950s estate, one of Dublin’s largest council-flat complexes, has been designated for regeneration with up to 500 homes proposed. Construction of the first 50 homes, to be used for social housing, is expected to start early this year. However, the department has warned it may not be in a position to fund them because of the councillors’ zoning decision.

Councillors on Friday voted that part of the lands proposed for housing would be reserved for a public park and sporting facilities under the new 2016-2022 Dublin City Development Plan.

The department had warned the council the development of the housing would be “compromised” if the zoning went ahead.

Council head of planning Jim Keogan told councillors their decision would result in the loss of land for more than 200 houses and would “delay the long awaited regeneration of this area”.

Council chief executive Owen Keegan said the zoning would “undermine” the regeneration of the estate and the capacity of the council to respond to the housing crisis. “There is a risk the department could withdraw the approval for the 50 units.”

Labour Cllr Rebecca Moynihan said there were 10 schools in the area “without one blade of grass between them”.

Smithfield objections

Meanwhile, on the north side of the city, councillors scrapped plans for a public park at lands earmarked for new family courts complex, following submissions from senior members of the judiciary.

Chief Justice Mrs Justice Susan Denham was among several judges, including president of the Circuit Court, Mr Justice Raymond Groarke and District Court president Ms Justice Rosemary Horgan, to lend weight to the campaign to prevent part of the site in Smithfield being zoned as open space in the development plan.

The Office of Public Works bought the site of the former Maguire and Paterson match factory on Church Street and Hammond Lane in 1999 but it has remained vacant since.

The Courts Service plans to build a €40 million family and children’s court complex on the site, which is just over one acre and close to the Four Courts. While no planning application has been lodged, the Courts Service said the designs are at an advanced stage and it hopes to complete the building in 2020.

Councillors last May voted to reserve about 15 per cent of the site for open space under the development plan, which will come into force next month.

Green Party Cllr Ciarán Cuffe said he had met the Court Service and the Office of Public Works and still felt there was room for both the park and the new court building. However following a request from his fellow councillors who spoke in support of court plans he agreed to withdraw the motion.

Mrs Justice Denham, in her capacity as chairwoman of the Courts Service Board, had said the park could jeopardise the development of much-needed facilities for “some of the most vulnerable court users”.