Councillors delay O’Devaney Gardens plan

Eoghan Murphy threatens funding withdrawal if deal blocked

Dublin City Council is building 56 social homes on the dilapidated O’Devaney Gardens site in Dublin 7. Bartra Capital has been chosen to build another 768 houses and apartments. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Dublin City Council is building 56 social homes on the dilapidated O’Devaney Gardens site in Dublin 7. Bartra Capital has been chosen to build another 768 houses and apartments. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

A decision on the regeneration of O’Devaney Gardens by Bartra Capital has been delayed by Dublin city councillors following warnings from Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy that he would strip the project of funding if councillors blocked the deal.

Councillors had threatened to overturn a deal, agreed by the previous council in 2017, that would have seen more than 800 new homes on the site of the former flat complex, 30 per cent of which would have been used for social housing, 20 per cent for affordable purchase and 50 per cent for private sale.

The previous council had approved the agreement by 53 votes to eight, with Sinn Féin, Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour and the Green Party all supporting the deal. Labour, the Green Party and Sinn Féin had planned to reverse their support on Monday night, with other parties raising concerns about the terms of the deal. Fine Gael remained in support of the agreement.

Four-page letter

In a four-page letter sent to Lord Mayor of Dublin Paul McAuliffe on Monday, Mr Murphy said if the deal was overturned it would result in a “very significant deferral in the provision of much-needed housing in this prime city-centre location”.

The project chosen for O’Devaney Gardens, with private and affordable housing as well as social housing, was considered the “most effective way” to develop the site, Mr Murphy said, and he noted this strategy had previously been agreed by the council.

“Should the proposal not now be supported by Dublin City Council this will represent a significant blow for the citizens of Dublin who are in need of new homes and will call into question the ability of Dublin City Council to deliver important housing projects,” he said.

“I would also note that funding from my department to both reduce the cost of homes and to help fund much-needed community facilities will also be lost if elected member decide not to proceed with important project.”

The council agreed to defer the decision for one month to allow talks with Mr Murphy.

The council is already building 56 social homes on the site. Bartra has been chosen to build another 768 houses and apartments, 411 of which would be sold privately by the developer, 192 would be used for social housing and 165 would be sold to qualifying affordable housing purchasers.

The council’s head of housing Brendan Kenny said affordable homes would be available for sale at an average cost of €300,000 and that none would cost more than €320,000, the maximum qualifying price for the Government’s Rebuilding Ireland home-loan scheme.

The dilapidated 1950s flat complex was to have been redeveloped under a public-private partnership (PPP) between the council and developer Bernard McNamara but after several delays the deal collapsed in mid-2008.

The council drew up plans to redevelop the estate using public money but in late 2012 conceded it could not secure the €32 million needed and shelved the project.

In December 2016 the council got sanction from the Department of Housing to spend just under €18 million to build the first 56 social homes. In January 2017 the council agreed to seek tenders to develop the site with 50 per cent private, 30 per cent social and 20 per cent affordable housing mix.