Taggart’s plan to build homes on parks should be scrutinised by Land Development Agency

Proposal involves setting aside 10 per cent of major public parks in Dublin to provide housing for key workers

Phoenix Park in Dublin: A new report has suggested taking 175 acres there and building new homes for key workers struggling to afford accommodation. Photograph: Paul Tierney

Housing is the biggest domestic political issue of the day. One element of that is the reality that many key workers (teachers, gardaí, nurses and others) in Dublin are undertaking long commutes to work each day because they can’t afford to live in the capital.

The Irish Times reported on Monday that staff at the National Maternity Hospital were commuting for up to 2½ hours each day due to a lack of affordable accommodation in Dublin, while some staff at the Rotunda were commuting from their homes in Germany and Spain. Others have chosen to emigrate to Australia or the Middle East, where there is warmer weather and, in some cases, tax-free income on offer.

So the report published by veteran businessman Paschal Taggart and co-author Luke Cantwell on how they might be housed is timely if a bit left-field.

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Taggart is proposing that 10 per cent of parks in Dublin be set aside for housing key workers. The report names 13 “flagship” parks, with a combined 4,000 acres, of which 400 could be taken for housing.


His analysis estimates some 40,000 “quality” two-bedroom apartments could be built over a 12-year period, accommodating about 80,000 people. The units would be owned by the Office of Public Works or local authorities.

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For example, under Taggart’s plan, some 175 acres of the 1,750 acres at the Phoenix Park would be set aside for such housing. But it would be a brave politician who would back such a plan and it is not difficult to imagine strong opposition from local residents and environmental groups to reducing the amount of public green space in Dublin.

The Land Development Agency is a commercial State-sponsored body set up a few years ago with a remit to build affordable and social homes on public land, albeit not our major public parks. Key workers fall right into its bailiwick. It sounds like the logical place to assess the viability of Taggart’s plan.