Council urged to reconsider social housing plans for St Michael’s Estate

Regeneration group puts forward €56m ‘cost rental’ scheme for former flats in Inchicore

St Michael’s Estate, Inchicore: Dublin City Council has already approved plans for 420 social, affordable, and private homes for the same site. Photograph: Eric Luke

St Michael’s Estate, Inchicore: Dublin City Council has already approved plans for 420 social, affordable, and private homes for the same site. Photograph: Eric Luke

 

Plans for a €56 million scheme of 300 social and affordable rental homes at St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore, Dublin have been published by the regeneration group of the former flat complex.

However, Dublin City Council has already approved plans for 420 social, affordable, and private homes for the same site.

The St Michael’s Estate Regeneration Team has put forward a social and “cost rental” model for the construction of the homes on the vacant 12-acre site near the Grand Canal.

Half the homes would be designated for social housing tenants, while the remaining 150 would be available to rent at an affordable rate to lower and middle income workers earning up to €60,000 who do not qualify for social housing.

“The St Michael’s model is based on a long-term ‘fair rent’ model, also known as the ‘cost-rental model’, well established across top European cities. The State builds the homes, continues to own them, and rents them to all residents at a cost that is weighted according to household income,” community activist John Bissett said.

Fair Rent model

Under the proposed model a household on €60,000 per annum would pay approximately €1,200 a month in rent for a three-bedroom house. “We believe our Fair Rent model is the breakthrough solution to our local and national housing emergency,” said Mr Bissett. “It does three vital things: it provides much-needed homes for people, it ensures that public land remains a public asset, and it pays for itself over time. It really is the ready-made pilot project to begin to transform the way the State delivers on its housing commitments.”

However, the city council has already included the 12-acre site in its “land initiative” scheme. Under this project, which has been approved by councillors, 422 “mixed tenure” apartments and duplexes would be built on the site, 30 per cent of which would be social housing, 20 per cent affordable rental, and 50 per cent private homes.

The council said a project board and legal and procurement teams have been put in place for the project, and the initial stages of the tender process have been initiated.

Opportunity to switch

However, Sinn Féin TD Eoin Ó Broin said there was still an opportunity to switch to a cost rental model. “I met Damien English, as minister with responsibility for regeneration, last year and he is open to a fully publicly funded scheme on the site if the numbers stack up.”

The regeneration of St Michael’s Estate, a late 1960s complex of about 350 council flats, was first proposed almost 20 years ago. In 2007 a Public Private Partnership (PPP) deal was struck with developer Bernard McNamara to build 720 new homes, 165 of which were to be social housing,

The following summer this deal, along with agreements for four other Dublin PPP housing schemes to be developed by Mr McNamara, collapsed. Some social housing has been built on the St Michael’s site: Thornton Heights, a development of 75 social houses and apartments was completed three years ago.