Dublin apartment owners appeal against metro demolition plans
College Gate apartments on Townsend Street face acquisition under MetroLink proposals
Residents of College Gate apartments on Townsend Street. Photograph: Tom Honan
Residents of a Dublin city centre apartment block located above the preferred route of the proposed MetroLink rail line have appealed to transport chiefs not to demolish their homes.
College Gate, a complex of 70 apartments on Townsend Street, next to Tara Street Dart station, has been earmarked for acquisition and demolition for the construction of an underground station for the €3 billion line.
The Markievicz Leisure Centre, refurbished two years ago by Dublin City Council at a cost of more than €1 million, would also require demolition under the plans published by the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII).
Details of the preferred route, which combines the previously planned Metro North from Swords to the city centre with an upgrade of the Luas Green line between Charlemont and Sandyford, were announced by the transport authorities last March. Work on the 26km route, 12km of which will be underground, is due to start in 2021 and to take six years.
The construction of the route was likely to require the acquisition of approximately 100 properties, the transport authorities said. In some cases this would involve taking gardens, but it is also proposed to compulsorily purchase entire buildings, including the 70 apartments in the College Gate complex.
The plans also included the development of a construction site on pitches at Na Fianna GAA club in Glasnevin and the closure of a road linking Rathmines and Ranelagh in south Dublin.
However, last May, NTA chief executive Anne Graham said the authority would consider an “alternative option” for the Glasnevin construction site. She was responding to comments by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar who said the proposals would cause “enormous damage” to the schools and sports clubs that use the land.
In July the authority confirmed it was redesigning the route to also prevent the closure of the through-road from Dunville Avenue to Beechwood Road in Ranelagh. Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy has asked the authority to scrap the road closure plans which would force motorists into a 1.2km detour.
Owner-occupiers, tenants and landlords at the Townsend Street complex have now come together as the Save College Gate group, in an attempt to prevent the demolition of their homes.
“We went to the public consultation meetings in May and they [NTA and TII representatives] were very adamant that the apartments were needed for the construction of the station. They were very bullish about it and said there was no point in trying to fight it,” apartment owner and a director of the owners’ management company Guillaume de Montalivet said.
The residents have made submissions to the public consultation process, but said they have received no contact from the transport bodies since May.
“We didn’t know it could be changed, until we read about Dunville Avenue and Na Fianna, but I suppose they are thousands of people and we are just one small group,” owner Gordon Rose said.
The group said there are alternative sites available in the area which could be used for the station construction, particularly the site of the recently demolished Apollo House on Tara Street.
Fianna Fáil TD Jim O’Callaghan said the demolition of homes should only proceed when there were no reasonable alternatives available. “Where there are alternatives they should be pursued rather than demolishing people’s homes at a time when we have a chronic housing crisis in the city.”
A spokesman for the NTA said it hoped to publish revised route plans next month, but was not in a position to say whether the College Gate demolition would be reconsidered.