South Dublin council drops plans for Traveller housing in Mount Merrion
Dublin site removed from Traveller accommodation plan after decades of disputes
Josepha Madigan, when seeking a council seat in 2014, said in her election literature that it would be a ‘dreadful waste of taxpayers’ money’ if the site were used for Traveller accommodation. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw
The council-owned site close to Mount Anville Secondary School, in one of the wealthiest parts of south Dublin, was first proposed for a Traveller halting site in 1985 but has remained vacant in the face of forceful local opposition.
Minister for Culture Josepha Madigan, when seeking a seat on the council in 2014 in her election literature said it would be a “dreadful waste of taxpayers’ money” if the site were used for Traveller accommodation.
But the site, which was most recently earmarked for homes for five families, was retained in the council’s Traveller housing plans up to 2018, despite having been subject to more objections than any other Traveller accommodation site.
However, it has now been removed from consideration in the council’s 2019-2024 Draft Traveller Accommodation Programme published on Thursday.
The chairman of the council’s Traveller accommodation consultative committee, People Before Profit councillor Hugh Lewis, said the decision was “hugely disappointing”. The site, one of the largest owned by the council “has the potential to develop a significant amount of social, affordable and Traveller specific accommodation.”
The land was last year valued at €15 million, if the designation for Traveller housing was removed. The council has added it to a list of properties with potential for sale, but even if the land was sold, this would not preclude its use for Traveller housing, Mr Lewis said.
“The site is zoned for a mixed use town centre, which includes housing. Previously a private developer had to fulfil their obligation to provide Traveller accommodation as part of their development, because it was designated in the accommodation programme.”
Geraldine Dunne, chairwoman of the Southside Traveller Action Group said the decision was “an outrage”.
“Three sites have been earmarked for accommodation in the area and none have ever been developed. The message is quite clear – this is a rich area and only private housing can be built here.”
Fine Gael councillor Barry Saul, who has supported the sale of the Mount Anville site, said he welcomed the plan. “I look forward to debating the plan when it comes before the council for approval.”
The council has designated 12 sites for the construction of new Traveller accommodation, six of which are not currently occupied by Travellers. These sites are at Pottery Road in Dún Laoghaire and Cloragh in Glencullen, both of which are owned by the council; at Lehaunstown which is part of the Cherrywood Strategic Development Zone; and three privately owned sites at Enniskerry Road in Sandyford, Stillorgan Grove in Blackrock and at UCD.
Over the five years of the programme, the council plans to provide 52 additional homes for Traveller families, 24 of which will be newly built or refurbished, 14 from vacancies arising in existing Traveller housing and 15 in standard rented accommodation.
Submissions on the draft programme can be made until May 31st.