Social housing: Community group to block construction start

Group says 72 social houses in Ballyfermot park would destroy community garden

Residents of Cherry Orchard in Ballyfermot have said they will block entry to a local park where construction is due to start on 72 social houses this morning.

Housing co-operative Nabco was granted permission in 2008 to build the houses at a Dublin City Council-owned site at Cherry Orchard Park in west Ballyfermot, but the development did not go ahead due to the economic downturn.

In 2013, the Stone Soup Project was formed by local residents to clean up the site which, following years of neglect, had become a magnet for anti-social behaviour. They have since created a community garden on the land, including a grotto and have planted about 100 trees as memorials to local people who have died.

Nabco, since renamed Co-operative Housing Ireland, now plans to go ahead with the housing, with work due to begin on clearing the land today. However residents say they will block access to the site.

“When we started clearing up it was a wasteland. There was absolute mayhem from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon with drink and drugs,” a spokesman for Stone Soup Project said. “Three years on there is no fly-tipping, no burnt-out robbed cars. This project has been developed by the community for the community and I will lie down in front of a bulldozer rather than see it destroyed.”

‘Housing crisis’

Sinn Féin councillor Daithí Doolan said he appreciated the work done by the group but the housing was badly needed. "Dublin is in the midst of an unprecedented housing crisis. Ballyfermot is one of the areas most in need of housing."

Fianna Fáil councillor Daithí de Róiste said he had voted against the housing plans. "This area has serious underlying problems. Apart from one local newsagents, there are no shops, the school is full to bursting. Lumping more housing in is just foolish, particularly given what the community has done to transform this wasteland that had been abandoned by the council."

A spokesman for Co-operative Housing Ireland said work would begin on the site this week but it would “engage appropriately” with any demonstrators. “Our view is that this is a housing project which is sorely needed in this area which has huge numbers of people on the housing waiting list and we intend to proceed with it.”