Housing plans for O'Devaney shelved


FUNDING:The redevelopment of one of Dublin’s largest and most notorious council flat complexes has been put on hold because of a failure to secure finance for the scheme.

Dublin City Council says it has been unable to secure funding to go ahead with the regeneration of O’Devaney Gardens, despite having secured planning permission more than a year ago.

The 1950s flat complex was one of five social housing schemes in the city to have been developed under a public-private partnership between developer Bernard McNamara and the council.

Following several delays, the deal with McNamara collapsed in May 2008. Attempts that summer to rescue the schemes were unsuccessful and the council formally terminated its relationship with the developer in August 2008.

Later that year the council said it would build new housing in the three occupied estates – St Michael’s, O’Devaney Gardens and Dominick Street. The permission granted in August 2011 by An Bord Pleanála for the first phase for O’Devaney Gardens would have involved building 60 social and 50 private apartments and houses.

The requirement for private as well as social housing was holding back the development of the estate, the council said.

“In the current climate, Dublin City Council has been unable to date to structure the necessary financial arrangements to advance the construction of the entire phase-one proposal of 110 units. The difficulty mainly centring on the financing of the private element.”

The council says it is now reviewing how the project might be advanced without the private units which were “core” to the proposal approved by An Bord Pleanála.

St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore is the only one of the former McNamara projects on which construction has started. Its circumstances were more advantageous than the others as it already had secured planning permission when the deal collapsed.

Construction of 75 housing units along with a community centre and creche began in November 2010 and was due to be completed by the end of this year at a cost of €12 million. Things did not go to plan.

The council halted work last February in a dispute over safety, following the partial collapse of a building. The issue was ultimately resolved and Bam Building Ltd returned to the site.

The council now says it hopes the units will be ready for tenants next spring.

The council applied for permission for redevelopment of Dominick Street at the same time as O’Devaney Gardens. The approval from An Bord Pleanála was, however, much slower to come, with permission granted just last May.

The hold-up was due to the delay in An Bord Pleanála issuing a decision on the new cross-city Luas which will run up Dominick Street. However it is in part the Luas which gives the project a better chance of going ahead than O’Devaney Gardens.

The scheme, however, hinges on its commercial viability. To fund construction the council is seeking an anchor occupier for the major commercial unit.

The council does not plan to go ahead with the Infirmary Road and Seán McDermott Street developments.