Liberties residents appeal to council over allotments closure

Housing crisis does not eliminate the need for ‘more green space’, say campaigners

Members of the Save Weaver Square Community Garden and Allotments campaign protesting outside Dublin City Hall. Photograph: Catherine Cleary

Members of the Save Weaver Square Community Garden and Allotments campaign protesting outside Dublin City Hall. Photograph: Catherine Cleary

 

Residents from the Liberties in Dublin who use a community garden that is earmarked for social housing have urged Dublin City Council to rethink its plans.

The Save Weaver Square Community Garden and Allotments campaign is asking the council to engage with locals over the future of the south inner city community garden and 27 family allotments before they close.

Samantha McCaffrey, one of more than a dozen residents who staged a protest outside City Hall on Wednesday afternoon, said: “We’re supposed to be evicted [from the garden and allotments] on December 31st so we’re going in today to ask them to extend our lease and just to talk to us.”

It is thought that the 182 square metres of land will be used for social housing by the local authority.

“Dublin City Council have actually yet to get planning permission for housing on our site but that’s what we think it is,” Ms McCaffrey said.

“We understand, of course, the context of the housing crisis and we want decent affordable housing in our area...We’re just saying that we need more green space, not less.

“Why would you get rid of something that’s really good for the community? There’s nobody that doesn’t want it there except for Dublin City Council who, before this, would have thought it’s a really good amenity. If you don’t live in the leafy suburbs you’re starved for greenery,” she said.

Members of the campaign who rent individual allotments also expressed disappointment at Dublin City Council’s decision.

Sam Moore, a regular allotment user who has a young family, said: “For us, our kids have grown up on the allotment. Our four-year-old would rather play in the allotment than play in the playground beside. They’ve learned where food comes from. They’ve sown seeds and watched them grow.”

Mr Moore added “there is something inherently community-building about allotments and about community garden space. All of us wouldn’t have been brought together if it wasn’t for the allotments”.

In a statement, Dublin City Council said: “The site at Chamber/Weaver Street is zoned in the City Development Plan for residential purposes. It is owned by Dublin City Council and forms part of our limited land bank for the development of social housing.

“There is a housing crisis in Dublin City and we have to make best possible use of the limited land bank that we have. There is a large number of households on our housing waiting lists for this area.

“Currently this land is being used for allotments on short term licence agreements. It was always intended to develop housing on this site.

“We are trying to source an alternative location in the Dublin 8 area to cater for the allotment licensees currently using this site. It is difficult to do this in an urban environment/ setting and it is also difficult to get the right balance between the urgent need for housing and the demand to retain open spaces such as this one.”