€23m East Wall ‘Readymix’ site to be used for social housing

Plot of 1.6 acres bought by Dublin Docklands Development Authority in 2006

The former Readymix concrete site on the East Wall Road was among a number of costly purchases made by the DDDA in 2006, which included the site of the old Irish Glass Bottle Company in Ringsend (pictured).  Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

The former Readymix concrete site on the East Wall Road was among a number of costly purchases made by the DDDA in 2006, which included the site of the old Irish Glass Bottle Company in Ringsend (pictured). Photograph: Cyril Byrne / The Irish Times

 

A site bought by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) for €23 million at the height of the boom, valued last year at €5.5 million, is to be used for social housing.

The 1.6 acre plot is to be combined with the adjoining North Strand Fire Station site as part of a large-scale Dublin City Council housing project.

The former Readymix concrete site on the East Wall Road was among a number of costly purchases made by the DDDA in 2006, which included the site of the old Irish Glass Bottle Company in Ringsend that it bought as part of a consortium for €412 million.

While the Readymix site was substantially cheaper, the DDDA still paid €7 million over the asking price for the plot which was at the very outer northwestern edge of its bailiwick, just behind the fire station, close to Fairview village.

In 2012, the Comptroller and Auditor General found serious shortcomings in the conduct of the DDDA’s planning and development functions, particularly in relation to its land purchases.

The minister for the environment at the time, Phil Hogan, announced the DDDA would be abolished and its powers transferred to the city council.

In 2016, following several delays, the DDDA was finally dissolved and its powers and remaining were transferred to the council, including the Readymix site.

The site is one of 21 owned by the city council on the Vacant Sites Register. It was placed on the register last year with a value of €5.5 million and will from next month be subject to a 3 per cent levy rising to 7 per cent from 2020.

While the council effectively pays the levy to itself, the money must be ringfenced for housing development or regeneration.

Site assessment

Brendan Kenny, head of housing with the council, said it plans to use the Readymix site for social housing, although it will need to first be assessed for contamination “possibly including asbestos” before detailed plans can be devised.

The council had initially intended just to focus on the Readymix site, but it will now also assess the potential of combining the land with the site currently occupied by the fire station, which is due to relocate in the coming years to land on nearby Alfie Byrne Road.

Fine Gael councillor Ray McAdam said while he welcomed the development of housing, the council must use its standard planning process, and not invoke emergency planning powers, to ensure the local community would have an opportunity to participate in the process.

While the Readymix site has remained undeveloped since it was bought by the DDDA, it was in 2015 used as a demonstration site for the original modular housing planned for homeless families living in hotels.

Six providers installed portable prefabricated units on the site, but none were chosen by the council, which instead built traditional two-storey houses.