South Dublin county councillors have voted against selling council land to a property development company, with the majority of councillors agreeing that the land should be used by the council to build social housing instead.
Two sites, located beside each other off the Old Knocklyon Road and Castlefield Avenue in Dublin 16, were going to be sold to Orbitiz Limited for €2.65m, with the intention that housing would be built on the site by the private developers.
A total of 28 councillors voted against selling the land, while eight voted in favour of the sale.
The councillors who spoke against the sale said they could not agree to sell council-owned land to private developers in the midst of a housing crisis.
Cllr William Joseph Carey said he wouldn’t be voting in favour of the disposal of land. “I have to ask why we aren’t considering developing these sites ourselves for age friendly housing... they seem to be ideal.”
Cllr Francis Timmons echoed these concerns, asking whether the land was assessed for housing, and why the council were giving the land away in the middle of a housing crisis.
Cllr Carly Bailey said she feared that a private housing development may be unaffordable. “We have a significant lack of social and affordable housing in the county, particularly around this area.
“I have been contacted by residents... who cannot understand why it is they are selling off the land... which will be developed into most-likely unaffordable residential.”
One councillor spoke in favour of the private development. Cllr Brian Lawlor said that social housing often takes longer to build than private housing as there is a wait for funding, and he believed some of the houses in this development would be social, therefore the sale should be proceed.
There were stipulations on the proposed sale, including that planning permission for a housing development had to be lodged within two months of the sale, and construction must be started within two years of the purchase, otherwise the council would be able to buy back the land.
The council’s chief executive, Daniel McLoughlin, said that he could instruct various council departments to plan a part 8 development, which would see social housing built on the site instead.
He said that the sites were up for sale as they were not listed on the council housing programme that was agreed by councillors over four years ago.
Mr McLoughlin said that as councillors expressed an interest in building age-friendly housing on the site, this could be incorporated into the proposed part 8.