Don't expect affordable housing in city spots, says council official

Affordable houses set for largely social housing areas of Ballymun, Darndale, Cherry Orchard

“Should we be in the business of providing housing for people who can afford €400,000? No. Affordable housing can only happen where the land is effectively free.” Photograph: Getty Images

“Should we be in the business of providing housing for people who can afford €400,000? No. Affordable housing can only happen where the land is effectively free.” Photograph: Getty Images

 

The Government’s new affordable purchase scheme will not be available to buyers in Ranelagh or Rathmines or most central areas of Dublin, Dublin City Council’s head of housing Brendan Kenny has warned.

Mr Kenny said there appeared to be a misconception that affordable housing would be available in sites throughout the city as in the previous affordable housing scheme that was discontinued in 2011.

He said any housing built under the new affordable purchase scheme in the coming years would be concentrated in the largely social housing suburbs of Ballymun, Darndale and Cherry Orchard.

“I am concerned about what appears to be a wrong expectation out there that we will be able to get affordable units in the city. That won’t happen. The idea that people are expecting to buy affordable housing in Ranelagh or Rathmines, or even Sean McDermot Street – it’s not on.

“You won’t get affordable housing in the city area. The only place you will get it in the city is as part of the O’Devaney Gardens project. And it remains to be seen what price that’s going to be at.”

Unlike previous affordable schemes, where local authorities bought sites for affordable housing, or developers were required to provide up to 20 per cent of a new housing development for affordable housing, the new scheme is expected to rely on houses being built on land already owned by local authorities but the mechanism of how they will be built has not yet been announced.

Zoned land

“We have 120 hectares of zoned land that we own. Most of that, over 90 hectares of it, is already pencilled in for social housing. The other 30 hectares is in Cherry Orchard, Ballymun and Darndale.”

He said these areas could benefit from the arrival of house-buyers.

“In a way it’s hard to justify Dublin City Council concentrating on affordable housing at all with nearly 20,000 households on our waiting list, but in another way it suits us because these areas have a huge concentration of social housing. But the problem is a lot of people won’t be interested in buying a house out in Ballymun, Cherry Orchard or Darndale.”

He said it had been suggested the council would buy development sites that came on the market with a view to building social and affordable housing, but buying land in the current market was not an economically feasible prospect.

“There was a suggestion recently in relation to land in Cabra with planning permission, and why didn’t we go out and buy it.” However, he said the price of the land would result in homes costing approximately €450,000.

“With a State subsidy of €50,000 per unit you’re down to €400,000. Should we be in the business of providing housing for people who can afford €400,000? No. Affordable housing can only happen where the land is effectively free.”