O’Devaney Gardens regeneration to be revived

Problematic Dublin estate one of four to be developed for new form of ‘public housing’

The regeneration of O’Devaney Gardens, one of Dublin’s most problematic and contentious social housing estates, has been put back on the table under plans to develop public housing on council lands.

Dublin City Council's head of housing Dick Brady and head of planning Jim Keogan confirmed that housing providers want to redevelop O'Devaney Gardens, as well as the lands at the former St Michael's Estate in Inchicore.

The former social housing estates are to be included in the council’s plan to develop a new form of “public housing”, combining social housing and private housing for rent.

O’Devaney Gardens, a 1950s flat complex close to the Phoenix Park in Dublin 7, was to have been redeveloped under a public-private partnership (PPP) between the council and developer Bernard McNamara but the deal collapsed in 2008. The council drew up plans to redevelop it using public money and secured planning permission in 2011, but two years ago conceded it could not raise the necessary funds and shelved the project.


Homeless families

Most of the blocks have been demolished but Minister for the Environment

Alan Kelly

wanted the council to refurbish 64 empty flats at a cost of €4.72 million for use for homeless families. However, three months ago councillors scrapped his proposal in the hope the land would eventually be developed for housing.

Separately the council last February advertised three vacant sites, totalling more than 30 hectares, at Santry and Darndale in the north of the city and Cherry Orchard in the southwest, which it had bought for housing but never developed. Some 58 parties, including developers, investors, non-profit bodies, modular housing specialists, and consortia from Ireland and UK engaged in talks in developing the lands for public housing.

Lacking infrastructure

While there was keen interest in the northside sites, the participants rejected the Cherry Orchard lands, Mr Brady said, largely because it was seen as lacking in infrastructure.

However, a significant number of providers said they wanted to develop the lands at O’Devaney Gardens and St Michael’s Estate. Their inclusion in the public housing project, despite the rejection of Cherry Orchard, will bring almost 32 hectares of land available for development

St Michael’s Estate, a 1960s complex of about 350 council flats, was also to have been developed under a PPP with Mr McNamara. Last year the council completed 75 houses and apartments on the site, but substantial lands remains.

The council now intends to draw up specific proposals for the four sites. It proposes to create “lots” within each site which could allow several developments on a piece of land to happen at the same time.

“In days gone by we had a single developer for an entire site and the whole thing collapsed. We can defend against the collapse of an entire site by creating lots,” he said.

Councillors have concerns about resuming relationships with developers whose focus was on sales rather than long-term rental, and have instructed the council to engage with the voluntary and co-operative housing sector, known as Approved Housing Bodies.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times