Bill of €2bn to bring run-down Dublin flats up to EU standard

Some 8,000 council flats need to be upgraded under mandatory directive

The only retrofit scheme in the first tranche will be at Constitution Hill, where the 90 apartments will be upgraded and new homes built, resulting in 131 apartments on the site. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The only retrofit scheme in the first tranche will be at Constitution Hill, where the 90 apartments will be upgraded and new homes built, resulting in 131 apartments on the site. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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Dublin City Council is facing a €2 billion bill to bring 8,000 of its dated and run-down flats up to mandatory EU standards.

An EU directive requires the council to bring all its social housing stock up to certain energy standards by 2050. The council has a rolling programme of retrofitting and upgrading its houses, but flats have not been part of this scheme as each complex needs to be dealt with in its entirety, rather than a flat-by-flat basis.

An analysis by the city architects division of the council’s stock of 10,250 flats in 220 complexes, found at least 8,000 will need to be retrofitted, or entirely replaced, to reach the required B2 energy standards.

To meet the EU deadline, the council will have to process at least 240 flats a year. The current cost estimate is €240,000 per flat or a total of €2 billion, some €300 million of which is expected to be spent within the next five years. The current programme of regeneration of the city’s flats will have to double if that target is to be met .

‘Certain standards’

“We have got a challenge that has been set down by Europe that we have to bring everything up to a certain standard by 2050,” city architect Ali Grehan said. “If we carry on as we are going we won’t meet that target, so we do have to ramp it up, there’s no question about it.”

The council has prioritised 26 complexes with a total of 2,625 flats for its initial programme of work. More than half will be demolished and replaced, nine will undergo a retrofitting programme, with some new flats added to the complexes, while three are still being assessed to determine if demolition or upgrading is the best option.

Design teams have already been appointed for the first five complexes. Of these, four will be fully demolished and just one will undergo the retrofit and new building programme.

Dorset Street

The council’s complex of 113 flats at Dorset Street, built in the mid-1960s, will be levelled and replaced with 158 apartments. The 72 flats at Matt Talbot Court near Mountjoy Square, built in 1971, will be replaced by 92 apartments. On the southside of the city, 16 flats at St Andrew’s Court will be replaced by 37 apartments. In the suburbs, 128 flats at Cromcastle Court in Coolock, recently repaired at a cost of €250,000, will also be demolished, but the gain in numbers will be significant with 300 new homes expected to be built on the site.

The only retrofit scheme in the first tranche will be at Constitution Hill, where the 90 apartments will be upgraded and new homes built, resulting in 131 apartments on the site.

A comparison of the potential costs shows the 158 new apartments at Dorset Street are expected to run to €65 million or €411,392 each, while the upgrade and new build plan for Constitutional Hill will cost €36 million, an average of €247,809 each.

While the orientation of the flats and the available space at Constitution Hill made the retrofit and rebuild viable, this was not the case at Dorset Street where the existing layout was perceived as exacerbating antisocial behaviour the council said.

However, Ms Grehan said, the “climate agenda” would have to be considered in any redevelopment programme.

“The most sustainable building, coat, or whatever, is the one you already have. Throwing things away and buying new ones is not a sustainable way to proceed.”