€26m regeneration of 100 homes at Dolphin House complex is completed

Dilapidated 1950s Dublin estate had persistent damp, mould and sewage problems

The regeneration of 100 homes at Dolphin House, one of Dublin city's most dilapidated flat complexes has been completed at a cost of €26 million.

However, just 37 of the homes are newly built, with the remaining 63 flats having been refurbished under Dublin City Council’s “deep retrofit” programme.

The 1950s estate of 400 flats near the Coombe hospital in Dolphin’s Barn, the largest remaining council flat complex in the State, became notorious for its heroin problem in the1980s and 1990s. The flats were increasingly neglected with persistent damp, mould and sewage problems.

It was designated for demolition and redevelopment more than a decade ago, and the council had hoped to pursue the project as a Public Private Partnership, but the economic crash scuppered those plans.


In recent years the estate was the subject of a complaint to the Council of Europe by the International Federation for Human Rights, accusing the Government of presiding over appalling living standards and failing to meet basic and legal housing requirements.

Four years ago the council sought approval from the Government for a €16 million regeneration plan, which would involve gutting and reconfiguring the old flats, as well as the construction of new homes. Two years later in 2016, the then Minister for Housing Simon Coveney approved the scheme, but the price tag had jumped to €25 million.

The refurbishment of the old flats had proved considerably more costly than the council had expected. It also resulted in a reduction in the number of original flats with 72 old flats reconfigured to make the 63 larger apartments.

Two blocks of vacant flats were also demolished to make way for the new 37 homes, of which 28 are apartments and nine are houses.

A further 193 old flats remain in Dolphin House and, deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny said, the council is now considering what method to use for their redevelopment.

“We are in the process of preparing a masterplan for the rest of the site. If we do go for full demolition and rebuilding we can get a lot more units on the site at higher densities and greater heights, and we definitely can’t afford to be reducing the numbers of units at this time.”

While the refurbishment work was expensive, the result has been high-quality low-energy use buildings, Mr Kenny said, with the blocks stripped back to their skeletons to allow for the replacement of all sewerage systems and drains, water and electricity services.

Sabrina Lynch, who will move in to one of the refurbished flats in the coming days with her two children, said it represents a huge improvement in living standards.

“The old flats were in a very poor state, there was black mould on the walls, the kids were always sick. We were in a top floor one-bed and the ceiling fell in on my son when he was in the bath when he was five or six because of the leaks in the roof.”

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times