Single PPP consortium sought for 500 social homes

Councillors raise concerns due to collapse of developer-led social housing in 2008

O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7, one of five sites that was due to be developed by  Bernard McNamara  as part of a PPP deal with Dublin City Council. The developer backed out of the deal in 2008.  Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7, one of five sites that was due to be developed by Bernard McNamara as part of a PPP deal with Dublin City Council. The developer backed out of the deal in 2008. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

A single development consortium is to be selected to build 500 social homes at six separate locations in Dublin and surrounding counties under a public private partnership (PPP) deal.

The social housing projects would be the first PPPs pursued since the collapse of the developer-led social housing system nine years ago.

Dublin city councillors have raised concerns about handing control of the provision of housing at all six sites to a single project group after developer Bernard McNamara backed out of a PPP deal to develop five city council sites for housing in 2008, leaving council housing flat complexes derelict.

The Government’s Social Housing Strategy 2020, published in 2014, proposed returning to PPPs as an off-balance-sheet mechanism for providing housing for local authority tenants.

In October 2015, then minister for the environment Alan Kelly announced six locations had been chosen for the 500 homes. Two of the sites were in Dublin city at Ayrfield on the Malahide Road and Scribblestown in north Dublin. Sites at Dunleer in Louth, Convent Lands in Wicklow Town and Craddockstown in Naas, Co Kildare were also selected.

The homes were to be built over a three- to four-year period at a cost of approximately €100 million. Unlike previous PPP models, the sites stay in the ownership of the State and the developer gets payments for a 25-year period, after which the houses or apartments return to State ownership.

City council chief executive Owen Keegan will next month seek councillors’ approval for the city council to act as the contracting authority on behalf of the other councils. The council management wants to start the process of seeking a project group to develop all six sites next month.

‘Disaster’

Sinn Féin councillor and chairman of the city’s housing committee Daithí Doolan said PPPs had “been a disaster” for the capital. “PPPs have a very sorry history in Dublin. They have left communities scared and abandoned.”

Cllr Doolan noted Minister for Housing Simon Coveney had said funding was not a barrier to building social housing. “This commitment clearly removes the need for any PPP.”

Independent councillor Christy Burke said any developer who “failed to deliver” previously should be excluded from the process.

The council had entered into a PPP deal with Mr McNamara to redevelop five council-owned sites with a mix of social, affordable and private housing. Following the downturn in the property market, Mr McNamara backed out of the deal in the summer of 2008.

Three of the sites, O’Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7, St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore and Dominick Street in the north inner city, were existing council flat complexes and most tenants had already been moved from their homes when the PPPs foundered.