Dublin city councillors asked to approve €34m loan plan

Loan needed after cost of new facility jumps to €74 million

Dublin city councillors will on Monday night be asked to approve €34 million in borrowing to fund the construction of facility in Ballymun for outdoor staff and equipment, following a €20 million overrun in the cost of the project.

In June 2018 the council estimated cost of the new operations depot at €54 million. However, council chief executive Owen Keegan said, following a "difficult tender process" the cost has risen to €74 million.

The council had planned to cover the costs of the project by selling smaller depot sites, with the workers and equipment redeployed to the new large depot in Ballymun, with any shortfall being funded through the council’s revenues.

The council has now devised a plan to lease nine sites to approved housing bodies (AHBs) who will develop the land for social housing. However, Mr Keegan said it is anticipated this will only generate €40 million for the council.


"On this basis, I am recommending that the balance of the required €74million funding, ie €34 million be borrowed." If councillors approve the plan Mr Keegan will seek a 30-year loan from the Housing Finance Agency, which will cost some €1.5 million annually to repay.

However, councillors have yet to approve the lease of the nine depot sites to housing bodies.

Social homes

The council said at least 745 social homes could be built at the sites in Rathmines, the Liberties, and the Tenters, on the southside of the city, and Portland Row, Stoneybatter, Cabra, Ballybough, Coolock and Collins Avenue on the northside.

Where previously the council transferred land to housing organisations for free, it plans to lease the sites to the AHBs at a reduction on the market value.

Councillors have previously stated they are not prepared to approve the sale of council land. However, the council's head of housing Brendan Kenny said he hoped councillors would "have no issue" with the proposal.

“AHBs are essentially the same as the local authority. We are all providing social housing, it is not the same as selling land to a private developer.”

The meeting on Monday night will be the first monthly city council meeting held since the introduction of Covid-19 restrictions. However, all 63 councillors will not attend and instead a representative group of 17 will meet in Dublin Castle instead of City Hall. No city council meeting was held in April.

Councillors will also be presented with plans to close College Green to traffic, and pedestrianise a significant number of streets, as part of a strategy to reopen the city centre as Covid-19 restrictions are lifted.

The “temporary mobility plan” will be introduced over the next three to six months, with measures likely to remain in place for at least 12 to 18 months, with some retained on a permanent basis.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times