The Poolbeg Glass Bottle site in south city Dublin could set an example for the full delivery of social and affordable housing across the country if handled properly, according to Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.
He acknowledged that the 37-acre site in Ringsend on which it is planned to build 3,500 homes is “probably the most significant” strategic site in Dublin.
The Ronan Real Estate Group is developing the site on which 10 per cent of homes are for social housing and a further 15 per cent of units would be affordable homes but the director of housing at Dublin City Council Brendan Kenny expressed concern that no agreement had been reached on the price of these homes.
The Minister said he would bring all the stakeholders around the table including the Ronan Group, Nama and Dublin City Council to discuss all issues and “work through the financials”.
He met the Irish Glass Bottle Housing Action Group representing the local community earlier this year and again on Monday and said there would be further meetings.
There are “massive opportunities for affordable housing for purchase and for cost rental” at the site, he said.
And “this could be an exemplar for how we deliver affordable and social and indeed private homes at scale”, for sites all around the country including Galway, Cork and Waterford.
Mr O’Brien was speaking during the debate on a Sinn Féin motion demanding that “genuinely affordable homes” must be delivered on the site; and that the Ministers for Housing, Finance and Transport should meet the residents’ group and the city council to agree a plan to guarantee affordable homes.
Introducing the motion Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin Ó Broin said it is “absolutely vital that these affordable homes are delivered if the working people of Ringsend, Irishtown and the wider surrounding area are to have any hope of remaining living in their community”.
Mr Ó Broin pointed to the agreement in 2019 by Nama (the National Asset Management Agency) to sell the site to Dublin City Council at a discount of up to 60 per cent which would have dramatically cut the development cost but the Department of Housing rejected the proposal and refused to fund the land purchase.
The Ronan Group bought 80 per cent of the land at a significant increase on the guide price.
Mr Ó Broin said there were now concerns that homes could cost from €400,000 which would be unaffordable for local people. He suggested that to ensure genuine affordability the 20 per cent stake still held by Nama should be transferred to the local authority and that infrastructural funding should be contingent on affordability.
Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan had earlier said the State would do "whatever we can to help deliver the housing" but he stressed that "what we cannot and do not want to do is delay is the delivery of the houses" because "we have been waiting too long for this to be built".
Planned infrastructure in the area includes a new bridge across the Dodder “for public transport and active mobility” as well as the upgrade of the Seán Moore Road and the roundabout there.
Local Sinn Féin TD Chris Andrews said the 2019 row over the purchase price between the council and the Department of Housing "scuppered plans" to buy the land. He said all the international companies from Facebook to TikTok have moved into the areas resulting in an increase in prices of €400,000 to €600,000 which would not be affordable for local communities.
Labour TD Duncan Smith said the development of 3,500 homes would mean 10,000 people living there, a “big-sized town”, not a housing estate or block of flats.
He said it had to be “linked in properly with truly affordable public housing”.
Social Democrats housing spokesman Cian O’Callaghan questioned whether the Government had the required expertise on affordable housing.
He quoted professor John FitzGerald who criticised the Minister’s shared equity scheme as a “very bad idea for Ireland” and an example of “politicians doing stupid things” which would benefit developers but not potential buyers.