Solidarity party advances radical plan to build 1,000 homes

Housing crisis: Mortgage repayments to the council would be between €478 and €797

The Solidarity strategy would entail councils developing their own 100% public, mixed-tenure housing on their own land. Photograph: Getty Images

The Solidarity strategy would entail councils developing their own 100% public, mixed-tenure housing on their own land. Photograph: Getty Images

 

More than 1,000 homes could be built on the last piece of council-owned, zoned “residential” land in Fingal, under a plan advanced by the Solidarity party.

In the first six months of this year 10 dwellings were built by Fingal County Council. And on November 30th there were 8,046 households on the council’s housing list. The Solidarity plan, if implemented, would represent a radical shift in public-housing provision and meet three times as much public housing need as current policy allows.

Fingal Cllr Matt Waine (Solidarity) said the party had engaged an architect to draw up plans for 1,135 homes on a 30½ hectare site in Damastown, Mulhuddart.

There would be 835 two- to four-bed houses and 300 one- to three-bed apartments, 50 per cent of which would be social housing and 50 per cent available under an affordable mortgage scheme. Monthly mortgage repayments to the council would be between €478 and €797.

Basing their costings on previous calculations by the Ó’Cualann housing co-op project in Ballymun and quantity surveyors Buildcost, Cllr Waine say the total cost would be €132.6 million for the houses and €41.5 million for the apartments. These costs would be jointly met by Fingal County Council, the Department of Housing and through borrowings from the Housing Finance Agency.

The plan includes open spaces, parks, sports grounds, schools, churches, shops, cafes and community centres.

The model could be a “template for the rest of the country” said Cllr Waine and was being put forward as a “genuine solution” towards tackling the housing and homelessness crises

It differs from the Department’s Housing Land Initiative – a key plank in its Rebuilding Ireland housing strategy – which advocates publicly-owned land being offered to private developers to build a mix of private and up to 30 per cent social housing.

The Solidarity plan would entail councils developing their own 100 per cent public, mixed-tenure housing on their own land.

“We seem to have got to the stage now where the narrative is that the housing crisis is a problem without a solution, that the homeless, like the poor, will always be with us,” said Cllr Waine. “What we have done here is demonstrate how simple and straightforward it is. This is a comprehensive, ambitious and practical plan that would make a massive difference.”

Ruth Coppinger TD, whose Dublin West constituency includes Damastown, said a homelessness crisis had been “raging for the past three years”, particularly in Blanchardstown and Mulhudart.

“We hear regularly that this is a mystery of ‘how are we going to solve the housing crisis?’ We are demystifying it. And this is what needs to be done.”

The plan comes as fresh figures collated by Sinn Féin housing spokesman Eoin O Broin show social housing projects in the pipeline – and unlikely to be delivered before 2019 – will meet as little as 6 per cent of social housing need in several local authorities. Just 11 per cent of the current social-housing need nationally will be met.

Figures from the Department’s Social Housing Construction Status Report for the second quarter of 2017 show while there are 99,555 households on the national housing list, just 11,049 social homes are in the pipeline. Many of these, adds Mr O Broin, will “never be built”.