Dublin City Council seeks to use Docklands tower block for social housing

Council interested in acquiring planned 15-storey building if 'price is right'

A 15-storey privately developed apartment block in Dublin's south docklands could be used exclusively for social housing if permission is granted by An Bord Pleanála.

Dublin City Council has told the developers of the proposed tower at the riverside in Ringsend, it would be interested in acquiring a lease on the building "for exclusive and long-term use" for social housing.

The council's planning department in September refused permission for the residential tower block at York Road close to the East Link Bridge, due to its height. However, the developer, Melvin Properties, has appealed this decision to An Bord Pleanála.

The council’s planners said the building would have an “unacceptable impact” on the character of the area and “would not integrate successfully into the existing streetscape”.


At almost 50m tall it would be “overbearing” and “would appear visually incongruous in the context of the surrounding buildings, which range in height from one to four storeys”.

The development became the focus of controversy earlier this year when it emerged that if the council had granted permission, no social housing would have been provided in the development.

Rule exemptions

Under planning rules, 10 per cent of the homes in any development of 10 or more apartments or houses must be sold to the local authority for social housing. However, there are exemptions for sites that are under 0.1 of a hectare. The York Road scheme, despite being 49.6m tall with 48 apartments, was proposed for a 0.073 hectare site, so could remain exclusively private.

However, in documents lodged with An Bord Pleanála, Melvin Properties acknowledged the local concerns over the lack of social and affordable housing and said it had approached the council and “reached agreement in principle” for the entire block to be used for social housing.

The council's head of housing, Brendan Kenny, said any agreement with the developers would be pursued only if planning permission was granted and would also be subject to negotiations on price. However, he said the council would be "very, very interested" in acquiring the entire block.

“We would get a lot of criticism over the scarcity of social housing in Dublin 4, so to have an opportunity like this, we would be very, very interested, if the place gets planning permission, if it gets built, and if the price is right.”

Local Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said securing the building for social housing was a better use of council resources than keeping homeless people in costly family hubs.

“I would be open to the long-term leasing option. As long as the price is reasonable, it’s a far better use of money than family hubs and hostels,” he said.

“It will boil down to value for money, but this could provide people with homes; a hub is not a home.”

Melvin Properties was previously granted permission for a seven-storey block of just 13 apartments on the same site. While it is asking the board to grant the 15-storey scheme, it has also submitted a 12-storey option of 36 apartments, which would also be offered for social housing if permission was granted.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times