After a 20-year wait, Tom Kelly residents to move into new homes

Charlemont Street regeneration only big PPP housing deal to survive crash

Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy TD visits the Charlemont Street Regeneration Project, Dublin where phase one of the project has seen the refurbishment of 79 social housing units which will be shortly ready for occupation. Video: Bryan O'Brien

 

Residents of the old Tom Kelly flats, on Charlemont Street in central Dublin, will move into their new homes next month, more than 20 years after the regeneration of the complex was first proposed.

The Charlemont Street scheme is the only public-private-partnership housing deal to have survived the property crash and the first housing PPP completed by Dublin City Council since the redevelopment of Fatima Mansions, in 2005.

McGarrell Reilly, a construction group owned by the developer Sean Reilly, has provided 79 social-housing apartments for council tenants and will build another 184 private apartments on the two-hectare (five-acre) site of the old flat complex, which is still being demolished. Unlike previous planned regeneration schemes, the social housing has been built before the private homes.

Charlemont Street regeneration: 79 social-housing units will shortly be ready. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Charlemont Street regeneration: 79 social-housing units will shortly be ready. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

The regeneration of the dilapidated complex was proposed in the mid-1990s. Most of it was built in the late 1950s, apart from one block, ffrench-Mullen House, which was designed by Michael Scott, architect of Busáras and the Abbey Theatre, and built in 1944.

It was not until 2007 that the council sought a developer for the PPP. Three years later Mr O’Reilly signed a deal to build 260 apartments, 139 of which would be social housing. Shops, restaurants, a sports centre and about 20,000sq m of office space were to be included in the scheme.

Planning permission was granted in April 2013, after two appeals to An Bord Pleanála, but final agreements were not signed, and with reduced land values and property prices it appeared the scheme would not go ahead.

In 2015 the council reached a new deal with the developer, for a reduced number of social apartments, with the option to buy more at a discount. Although beset by delays, it is the only large housing-regeneration scheme to survive the collapse of the PPP system in 2008.

Charlemont Street regeneration: residents Mary Sheehy, Pat Lynch and Nena Bassett look on from the old complex. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Charlemont Street regeneration: residents Mary Sheehy, Pat Lynch and Nena Bassett look on from the old complex. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
Tom Kelly regeneration: Sean Reilly of McGarrell Reilly, Cllr Dermot Lacey and Kevin Humphreys TD turn the first sod. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill
Tom Kelly regeneration: Sean Reilly of McGarrell Reilly, Cllr Dermot Lacey and Kevin Humphreys TD turn the first sod, in 2015. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Fiona Hanlon, who has lived in the flats all her life and is a member of the regeneration board, said she always believed the regeneration would go ahead. “It has taken a very long time, and the last 12 years in particular were tough, when it was on again and off again, but look at where we are now.”

Just 37 of more than 200 original tenants remain in the flats. “It was hard seeing the old community go, but we’ve kept that sense of community with the ones who are still here, and we’ll build a new one.”

Tony Flynn of the council’s housing department said the remaining 42 apartments would be allocated to people on the social-housing waiting list. “We will also be exercising our right to buy another 15 apartments in the next phase at a 15 per cent discount,” he said.