Disturbing disparity in social housing prices at Dundrum projects

Eye-watering social prices at Central Mental Hospital and Dundrum Village developments

An impression of the proposed development on the Central Mental Hospital site in Dundrum, Dublin.

Roughly one mile separates the Central Mental Hospital on Dundrum Road with the old Dundrum shopping centre. Yet there is a sky-high difference in the sums being placed on social housing units in residential developments being proposed for both sites in the south Dublin village.

The old shopping centre is being redeveloped by a subsidiary of British property group Hammerson, and the hospital (which is really a prison) by the State’s Land Development Agency (LDA) for social and affordable housing.

Both have submitted planning applications, with Hammerson seeking to build 881 apartments in blocks rising up to 16 storeys and the LDA seeking 977 units.

Details of the social housing units being offered to the local authority under Part V legislation have emerged as part of the planning process.


At the hospital, a letter from Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council confirms an indicative cost of €72 million for the 196 units being offered, putting an average price of €367,662 on each unit.

Three-bedroom apartments and houses will range in cost from €440,163 to €564,918. The cost for a two-bedroom units would be €438,194 or €387,579 depending on size. The cost for the studio units is €232,651, and €292,549 for one-bedroom homes.

At the shopping centre site, Hammerson has put a price of €42.6 million on 88 units that it will offer to sell to the council. That’s an average cost of €484,090. Three-bedroom units will cost up to €788,741, an eye watering sum for a local authority.


An indicative price tag of €567,708 has been placed on the two-bedroom apartments and €385,301 on one-bedroom units.

What could explain the discrepancy in cost for schemes located so close together? The specification is one possible difference. Hammerson’s scheme might be more high end. There could be complications in the construction process also.

And the price of land is another. It is not clear how much the LDA is paying the Office of Public Works for the hospital site but it is understood that the valuation prices some of the land at its existing use, which is greenfield or for agricultural purposes.

One thing that both schemes have in common is a swell of opposition from local residents concerned about the size and scale of the projects. So they could yet be scaled back in size and delayed by objections and appeals.

All of which could move the dial on how many social housing units are eventually offered to the council. It could also drive up the final bill.