The developer behind an exclusive new housing development in Dublin will not be providing any social housing on-site.
In the move, approved by Dublin City Council, Chartered Land developments has bought a block of apartments in Ringsend for social housing rather than provide such housing at its prestigious new Lansdowne Place development of apartments and penthouses in Ballsbridge.
The arrangement, described by the council’s deputy chief executive Brendan Kenny as the “the first and probably the most extreme example” of its kind, underlines the difficulties local authorities face in achieving a “social mix” in wealthy areas.
Up to 2015, under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000 developers had to provide 20 per cent of units in a development to the local authority at a reduced rate for social housing. Developers could, however, make a financial contribution or provide land elsewhere to the council to fulfil their Part V obligations.
Amendments to the Act in 2015, intended to end this practice of developers “buying their way out” of the Part V rules reduced the Part V requirement to 10 per cent but also removed the “buy-out” options.
There is a provision, however, in the amended regulations that developers may, “subject to the agreement of the planning authority”, instead “transfer...units on site or off site” to the local authority.
Rather than provide 51 apartments for about €800,000 each in Ballsbridge, Chartered Land bought a block of 53 apartments at Shelbourne Plaza in Ringsend, and sold them on to the council for €24.5 million, ensuring there will be no social housing in Lansdowne Park. Two-bed apartments here are priced “from €900,000”.
The developer has also made a financial contribution of €2.7 million to the council.
Ringsend’s one- to three-bed apartments have cost the council an average of €411,000.
Mr Kenny said the approach was “pragmatic”, and represented better value to the council. The Ringsend apartments were “more suitable”, and would be “easier to manage as they’re in one block”.
The Ringsend apartments, however, could not be described as equivalent to those in Ballsbridge. Described as “high end” in recent sales brochures they are between 538sq feet and 947sq feet each, while the Lansdowne Park apartments range from 800sq feet to 1,900sq feet. Residents in Lansdowne Park will also enjoy a “purpose-built private residents’ suite with cinema, lounge, dining room and gymnasium”, “landscaped botanic gardens” and a 24-hour concierge.
Housing analyst Lorcan Sirr said while he could understand the “pragmatism” of the council’s approach, “it shows how fluid a concept ‘social mix’ really is”.
“It seems to be absolutely crucial in poorer places like O’Devaney Gardens, but not so in Ballsbridge. It also throws into sharp relief the consequences of the State relying on the private sector to provide social housing it should be providing itself.”
Local councillor Chris Andrews (Sinn Féin) welcomed 53 new units of social housing in his ward, but was “concerned there would continue to be no social housing in Ballsbridge...It amazes me developers can still get away with this.”
Councillor Dermot Lacey (Labour Party), said he had “no problem” with the deal, and “would welcome it very much”.
“Ballsbridge is not where people [waiting for social housing] want to live. You can take social engineering too far and cause more problems for the people you are trying to help.”
Chartered Land did not provide a comment.