Proposals to rezone for housing large tracts of Dublin’s industrial estates have been welcomed by private and social housing providers and business groups.
However, city councillors, whose approval is needed for the rezoning of any city land, have raised concerns about the potential loss of jobs and the number of vacant sites which remain undeveloped in the city.
The council's head of housing, deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny, said councillors would, in the coming months, be asked to consider rezoning some of the capital's older industrial estates, particularly the Dublin Industrial Estate, at the Broombridge stop of the extended Luas Green line, as well as lands near Inchicore and Coolock.
The city was facing a shortage of residentially zoned land within four years he said and these sites which were “underutilised” would be suitable for high-density apartment development.
Call for councillors’ backing
Dublin Chamber of Commerce has called on councillors to back the rezoning plans and said the proposal could create thousands of new homes close to major public transport arteries.
"This is exactly the kind of radical action that is needed if Dublin is to tackle its housing shortage. The population of the greater Dublin area will grow to 2.2 million over the next 13 years, so pressure on the housing stock will only continue to rise. The city needs to prepare for this now," chief executive Mary Rose Burke said.
“We have seen the data, and it is clear Dublin city will simply run out of space for new housing development in about four years,” she said. “From the homelessness crisis to the challenge of finding decent accommodation for employees, there is now an urgent need to change the way we manage housing in Dublin.”
Hubert Fitzpatrick, director of housing and planning with the Construction Industry Federation, said almost all the existing residentially zoned land in the city was already either under construction or in the planning process.
“The greater the availability of zoned lands, the greater the prospects of increasing housing supply,” he said. “These particular lands are well located, close to transport and would offer great potential.”
Pat Doyle, chief executive of the Peter McVerry Trust, said industrial sites could see a rapid turnaround of homes.
“Unlike greenfield lands, industrial estates already have roads, sewage systems, ESB connections, they can be turned into homes very quickly.” Parts of these sites could be used now for emergency homeless accommodation and later for permanent homes, Mr Doyle said.
However, Solidarity councillor Michael O’Brien said there was already enough zoned land to meet “immediate social and affordable housing need”. The rezoning proposal was “no more than yet another ‘nudge’ to the private developers”, he said.
Fianna Fáil councillor David Costello said he was concerned about the impact on jobs. "Dublin Industrial Estate provides jobs to some of the poorest areas in the city – Cabra and Finglas – and has a strategic role in job creation. Housing without jobs is bad planning."
Labour councillor Andrew Montague welcomed the rezoning proposal, but said the State should compulsorily purchase the land for housing.