The redevelopment of one of Dublin’s largest and most troubled flats complexes is to go ahead at a cost expected to be in the region of €15 million.
St Teresa's Gardens, next to the Coombe maternity hospital in the south inner city, was to have been demolished and rebuilt as part of a Public Private Partnership (PPP) with Dublin City Council, but the regeneration plans were scrapped almost four years ago, following the collapse of the property market.
The council has decided to go ahead with the redevelopment of the 1950s estate, which has become increasingly dilapidated, with persistent sewerage and damp problems that council engineers have been unable to resolve though maintenance measures.
Its plans will involve the demolition of 276 flats spread over 10 blocks and the demolition of five commercial buildings. The external structure of two blocks, currently housing 60 flats, will be retained.
Flats to be reconfigured
However, the buildings will be stripped internally, with the replacement of all sewage and electrical services, and the flats reconfigured to create 52 modern apartments. The council also plans to build new homes on the site for about another 50 families. These will mostly be terraced housing with a small number of apartments.
St Teresa’s Gardens had accommodated almost 400 families, but detenanting left just over 100 households living in the the old flats. More off-site housing will be found for some of these tenants but others are set to remain on site as the development goes ahead.
The council must finalise plans for the refurbishment and new building with the Department of the Environment before funding for the project is confirmed, but it is understood that department finance of around €15 million will be required.
The demolition and refurbishment work is due to start in June and is expected to cost €4 million-€6 million of the total.
The council’s proposed development will be considerably more modest than the planned PPP scheme. The complex was to have been demolished and replaced with 300 social and affordable units, 300 private apartments, retail and commercial units, and community buildings.
At more than five hectares, the site is one of the largest in the area and, as well as the hospital, is bordered by two other large sites, the former Player Wills and Bailey Gibson sites. The council's new plans require less of the land than is currently occupied by the old flats and it hopes the unused portion will attract private development.
A regeneration board for the original development was established in December 2005 and spent several years working on a master plan for the redevelopment. The council put the project out to tender and in 2008 selected four preferred bidders who were to present designs.
Three bidders remained in the running until mid-2009 to rebuild the estate. However, by the end of that summer it had become clear the project as envisaged was not going to progress and the council announced that the PPP plans were to be abandoned.
A maintenance survey conducted by the estate’s regeneration board in 2010 identified serious structural and maintenance problems, including sewage in baths and sinks, flooding and vermin infestations. Rats were reported in nine blocks of flats.