Eamon Ryan: Poolbeg site is a chance to finally get housing right in Ireland
The peninsula perfect location to trial new model of affordable rental housing
Tackling our housing crisis requires us to look beyond a simple numbers game and get the quality of new homes right. Minister for Housing Simon Coveney says he wants to inject adrenaline into housing plans and he hit the ground running by launching a new strategic development zone for the Poolbeg peninsula.
This 84-acre site is within walking distance of the city centre and has a dramatic view overlooking Dublin Bay. It is in public ownership so we have to consider every detail of the development. We need to think long-term – we cannot afford to cut corners on what is the best development opportunity in the country.
The first question is who will end up living there? I think we can develop the site as public housing with a diverse tenant mix for people on varied income levels. There must also be provision for workplaces and shops in the scheme. the programme for a partnership government commits to introducing a new “cost rental” model of affordable rental housing. The idea has been promoted by the National Economic and Social Council and the Poolbeg peninsula could be the perfect location to trial this model.
The second question is how we plan the transport system for the area? This week Dublin City Council voted against long-term plans for an Eastern bypass to connect the Poolbeg peninsula to the M50. It would have cost a fortune and would have done little to solve Dublin’s transport crisis. What we need instead is to start designing communities where you don’t need a car to get around. There are plenty of examples of similar sites being developed in cities such as Freiburg and Stockholm, and there is no reason we cannot introduce such high-quality urban planning here.
A more immediate environmental issue is managing the methane gas emissions that are a legacy of the area being a former landfill dump up to 1978. The EPA has indicated work needs to be done to measure and manage this before any housing is built. In the time it takes us to address that issue, we can make sure we get the other elements of the plan right. It might take a year or two, but let’s take our time to create a new community we can all be proud of. Eamon Ryan TD is leader of the Green Party