New Dublin homes can be ‘delivered for €170,000’, Solidarity says

Fr Peter McVerry says Government plan to hand over State land to developers is ‘absurd’

Speaking at a Solidarity party press conference, Take Back the City spokesperson Oisín Coulter and Peter McVerry call on the Government to build public housing on public land.

 

The Solidarity party and housing campaigners have responded to a challenge from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy to bring forward alternative proposals for solving the housing crisis.

Solidarity said costed proposals and previous housing association experience demonstrated that new, three-bedroom homes could be delivered in Dublin for €170,000.

This compared with Mr Murphy’s plans for the Land Development Agency to deliver homes, which they said would be likely to offer similar homes for “over €300,000”.

Mr Murphy survived a confidence motion in the Dáil on Tuesday night and dismissed the initiative as “a political stunt”. He challenged his opponents to put forward their own proposals to address the crisis.

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday, a number of campaigners said alternative proposals were already published, costed and clear.

Fr Peter McVerry took issue with Mr Murphy’s plans for the Land Development Agency, saying it was “absurd” to hand over public land to developers in return “for 10, 20 or even 30 per cent social housing”.

Solidarity TD Mick Barry said Mr Murphy’s definition of “affordable” was questionable as it would involve a discount on market rates, which would still return prices for new homes of “over €300,000”.

Vat

The alternative proposals were to cut costs by directly developing State-owned land and cutting out Vat on the projects. He claimed this would reduce the cost to “significantly” below €200,000.

Solidarity councillor Matt Waine said proposals for 1,135 social and affordable houses on council owned land at Damastown had resulted in Fingal County Council bringing forward its own scheme for the land.

However, he said in the 12 months since, the Fingal plans had sat “on Mr Murphy’s desk” without funding approval. Mr Waine said this was because Mr Murphy had plans for the Land Development Agency “up his sleeve” and was intent on going ahead with the largest “privatisation” of land in the State’s history.

Oisín Vince Coulter, a member of the campaign group Take Back the City, said a further alternative the Minister could consider was to acquire vacant properties by compulsory purchase order.

The fact that there were so many buildings vacant showed they were being hoarded by owners who were content to sit back and see their value rise, he said, adding that this was proof that “the open [housing] market hasn’t worked”.

He also said there should be an end to evictions and rents should be capped.

Mr Barry appealed for a massive turnout for next Wednesday’s planned housing protest outside the Dáil, especially among the “half million young people” who were struggling with the crisis.

“The time has passed for just opposition on the floor of the Dáil . It is time for a social movement to challenge the housing-for-profit model,” he said.

Proposed alternatives:

Dublin West TD Ruth Coppinger and Fingal councillors Matt Waine and Sandra Kavanagh last year brought forward plans for “Damastown Village” a community of social and affordable housing on council lands in Dublin 15.

Their report noted Fingal owns a 75.4 acre site zoned for residential development, north and west of the Avondale and Wellview housing estates. They proposed developing the land as a mixed community of 1,135 homes, with 50 percent reserved for social housing for those on the social housing list and homeless families with the remainder offered through an affordable mortgage scheme.

There would be 835 houses in a mix of two, three and four bed units. There would also be a micture of 300 one, two and three bed apartments. Based on the example of the O’Culann Housing Cooperative project, developed in Poppintree near Ballymun, the costs have been calculated at €140,000 for a two-bed house rising to €200,00 for a four-bed. The apartments would cost €100,000 for a one-bed, rising to €177,000 for a three-bed.

In Cork, councillors Fiona Ryan, Marion O’Sullivan and Mick Barry TD have put forward proposals for a 22 hectare parcel of land off the old Whitechurch Road in the city.

Ms Ryan said a typical scheme under Mr Murphy’s Land development Agency proposals would net about 100 social homes, but with 4,636 families on the area’s housing list she said this constituted “a criminal lack of ambition”.

Under an alternative development scenario she said 800 homes could be provided, half offered to families on the housing list and the homeless, while the remainder would be sold through an affordable mortgage scheme. Costings and details of the plan have been submitted to the local authority.