O’Devaney Gardens tenants not told of demolition plans

Just 11 flats remain occupied in complex but residents say little maintenance carried out

 

The last residents of O’Devaney Gardens, a flat complex close to the Phoenix Park, have said they were not told by Dublin City Council of its plans to demolish their homes.

The council on Tuesday presented plans to local councillors for the demolition of the last four remaining blocks of flats, fully clearing the site to make way for a new development of some 400 homes.

However, 11 flats in the complex remain occupied and neither the tenants nor city councillors had been given forewarning that the final blocks were to be levelled.

“We still have tenants living there. They want to be rehoused in the area and I am very concerned about the way all this is going ahead,” Sinn Féin councillor Janice Boylan said.

Speaking to council

Linda Hennessy, who lives in a one-bedroom flat with her two daughters, said she had been speaking to council officials in recent days and no fresh demolition plans had been mentioned.

“We got no letter, no notice, but even when I was talking to them face to face they said nothing.”

Life in the deserted complex, with most of the remaining flats sealed up with steel panels, had become very difficult she said. However, she wanted to stay until the right accommodation was available.

“I want to stay in the area, and I’m prepared to wait. My dad lives locally and I need to look after him, but it is desperate here. My little one is seven and there is no one left for her to play with.”

Little maintenance is being done on the remaining blocks she said. “It’s riddled with damp, there’s bits falling off all around you, but if you want anything done you do it yourself.”

Her neighbour Breda Collins said she would happy if the council would refurbish the flats as they had in St Teresa’s Gardens in Dolphin’s Barn: “I was reared here. I don’t want to leave. We were told that new houses were being built on Infirmary Road and we could go there but that seems to have been put on hold. But we get told nothing – could they not have even lifted the phone to us?”

Ms Boylan said a plan had been approved to build 30 homes at Infirmary Road but this land was now being incorporated into the O’Devaney Gardens site. Councillors on Tuesday agreed a motion that no court action would be taken to evict the remaining tenants.

The council said it planned to demolish two blocks this year and the rest when the tenants had been relocated.

Public-private partnership

The 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 2008.

Most of the almost 300 flats had been emptied by that time. Demolition of the vacant blocks began in September 2008.

The council drew up plans to redevelop the estate using public money and secured planning permission in 2011, but in late 2012 conceded it could not secure the €32 million needed and shelved the project.

Last year, Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly directed the council to refurbish 64 empty flats at a cost of €4.72 million for use for homeless families. The city councillors last April overruled his proposal in the hope the land would eventually be developed for housing.

Last July the council announced that O’Devaney Gardens would be included in its vacant lands initiative under which it hopes to attract housing providers to build a mix of social, affordable rental and starter homes on 30 hectares of vacant land in the city.