Church land and housing policy choices

 

Sir, – Building housing on under-used lands close to our town and city centres makes sense.

Providing new homes and reducing long-distance commuting is a win-win.

That is why proposals for housing on the grounds of the Catholic archdiocese’s lands at Clonliffe College in Drumcondra are welcome, although concerns around amenity space, heritage protection and building heights must be addressed. However, it is crucial that the new homes built there tackle Dublin’s housing crisis.

It is two years since the then-Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin said these lands would be used for the benefit of the local community and to provide a legacy for the city of Dublin. Subsequently the Saint Laurence O’Toole Diocesan Trust sold on the lands to the GAA, which has engaged international developer Hynes to develop the lands with GAA pitches, rental housing and a hotel. At a recent online meeting, Hynes stated that it would provide 10 per cent social and 10 per cent affordable housing on the site. It stated that “affordable” might be as little as 10 per cent below market rents. This suggests that as many as 90 per cent of the new home will be unaffordable to most Dubliners. If so, it will be a lost opportunity for the city.

Perhaps the Catholic Church might rethink their intention to spend the €95 million from the sale on funding vocations and the ongoing formation of lay people and priests within the Dublin diocese, and instead provide support for more housing of those most in need.

Looking ahead, greater transparency from religious institutions on their ownership and sale of lands might better inform future policy choices. – Yours, etc,

CIARÁN CUFFE MEP,

Green Party,

Stoneybatter,

Dublin 7.