Minister urged to prevent ‘betrayal’ over Poolbeg social housing

Receiver seeks to reduce number of social homes required on Glass Bottle site by third

Protesters at the Irish Glass Bottle site call for affordable housing.  Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Protesters at the Irish Glass Bottle site call for affordable housing. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

Dublin City councillors have called on the Minister for Housing to intervene to prevent an appeal over plans to build almost 1,000 social and affordable houses at the Irish Glass Bottle site on Dublin’s Poolbeg peninsula.

Last May, the council said it reached a deal with then minister for environment Simon Coveney, Nama and receiver that State funding would be made available to bring the number of social and affordable homes in Poolbeg up to 900.

However, the plans were recently appealed by the site’s receiver Deloitte which wants to reduce the number of social and affordable homes to a maximum of 350.

At Monday’s sitting of Dublin City Council, councillors unanimously backed emergency motions callings on Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to ensure the appeal is withdrawn.

The motions also called for the Minister to publish details of any agreement reached with his department over the provision of social and affordable homes on the site.

Separate motions were proposed by members of Sinn Féin, the Labour Party and the Green Party.

Cllr Daithí Doolan (Sinn Féin) said the appeal amounted to a “fingers up at Dublin City Council” and insisted that Mr Murphy intervene to protect an agreement forged by councillors and the local community.

“We need the Minister to wake up, stand up for Dublin . . . the Minister must wake up and stop sleepwalking this city into a crisis,” he said.

Cllr Dermot Lacey (Labour) said the appeal amounted to an “extraordinary breach of trust”, while Cllr Patrick Costello (Green) said the move was a “betrayal” of the local community.

Chief executive of Dublin City Council Owen Keegan told the meeting he was “surprised and shocked” when he learned of the appeal.

He said he had told the Department of the Housing that he felt the actions of the receiver were “inconsistent with the terms of the agreement” reached over the development.

Mr Keegan added that the onus was on the department to “deliver for all”, and that if the appeal was successful, it was possible that only 10 per cent of units – about 350 – would be set aside for social and affordable use, in line with planning legislation. This is much lower then the 30 per cent agreed by councillors.

An Bord Pleanála is due to hold a public hearing on Dublin City Council’s plans for the development.

The council has been preparing plans for the new urban quarter on the peninsula, since it received Cabinet approval for the project in May 2016.

All of the 3,500 apartments, designed to house some 8,000 people, would be built on the former Irish Glass Bottle Company lands and the smaller neighbouring Fabrizia site, which combined cover about 15 hectares (12.4 acres).

Both sites are in receivership with Deloitte, but the city council owns around one quarter of the Glass Bottle site.