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Social housing price caps need to be dropped for docklands

Dublin City Council says it cannot afford to buy within Department of Housing limits

Capital Dock apartments, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Local authorities need to be allowed to break Department of Housing funding caps to secure social housing in the docklands and other affluent areas of the capital, a senior Dublin City Council official has said.

It emerged this week that there will be no social housing in property investment company Kennedy Wilson’s new Capital Dock apartment scheme on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, and that just 1 per cent of social homes designated for the docklands have been provided because of high costs.

Tony Flynn, executive manager of the council’s housing department on Thursday told councillors that high land values and the “high specification” of the apartments meant the council could not afford to buy them.

“Most have concierges, gyms, cinemas, all sorts of other associated services and as a consequence are very expensive.”

Under the planning laws, developers must provide 10 per cent of any development of 10 homes or more to local authorities at a discounted price. Changes made in 2015 mean councils can no longer take cash from the developer instead of social housing, but they can take homes or land at another location.

Discount

The main discount afforded to local authorities relates to the site value. The developer can only charge the “existing use value” and not its value when developed. Other discounts relate to the builder’s profit and development levies.

The department requires the council to stay within average costs of €286,300 for one-bedroom apartments or €372,100 for two-beds within any development. However, it must not pay over a ceiling of €400,800 or €469,500 respectively for any one or two-bed apartment.

“In relation to Dublin 2, 4, 6 and 8 a special case needs to be made for the provision of social housing,” Mr Flynn said. “Based on the current caps that are there it is proving extremely difficult to secure apartments.”

There needed to be a “revaluation and special status given to certain parts, and it’s not just the southeast of the city, I’m sure Dún Laoghaire would say the same,” he said. “They really are unique and should be looked at on a unique basis and given some special consideration.”

Kennedy Wilson plans to provide 39 apartments at its Herberton development in Rialto, Dublin 8 in lieu of apartments in Capital Dock and at its other apartment development at Clancy Quay close to Kilmainham also in Dublin 8. Just 26 apartments have been provided for social housing in the docklands in the last five years.