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The plan to offer Dublin City Council lands to private developers willing to build on them has been cooking for some time.
At Monday’s monthly council meeting, councillors took a major step forward, voting to approve a plan to develop three sites with roughly 1,345 homes on them: on Oscar Traynor Road in Coolock, O’Devaney Gardens, and St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore.
This would be the first major Dublin City Council housing project since the economic crash. And a useful contribution towards the 4,217 new residential units that the city needs each year, according to the council’s Draft Housing Strategy, which is part of the Draft Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022.
On Monday, the councillors added a proviso to their approval of the plan for the three-site housing-development project: 30 percent of the homes on the sites must be social housing or homes for senior citizens.
That should be around 450 social housing units and mean there’s a good mix at the sites, said Sinn Fein councillor Daithi Doolan, who is head of the council’s Housing Strategic Policy Committee and put the 3o-percent motion forward.
The first of the sites slated to be developed is at Oscar Traynor Road, which under the plan is supposed to be divvied up into lots, some with houses and duplexes, others with slender apartment blocks. It’s estimated that 655 units will be built on the site in total.
Alongside the 30 percent social housing or senior citizen units, there’ll also be private units and starter homes, and cost-rental units.
That’s a sign that the council is meeting its “broader societal responsibilities with regard to housing those attempting to buy their first home at a manageable cost and those who prefer to rent but with greater security of tenure,” said Labour councillor Alison Gilliland, by email.
While the majority feeling on the council – 48 of 57 councillors present voted for the plan – was that this three-site project was a better move than just sitting on the lands, it’s not an approach that People Before Profit, some independents, and the Workers’ Party said they could support.
“What we’re doing, is we’re giving away public housing to the private sector,” said independent councillor Cieran Perry, the deputy lord mayor.
People Before Profit’s John Lyons pointed to the length of the social-housing list. “It’s pretty shocking that on council-owned land, so few from that list are going to be housed,” he said.
If it were 80 percent social-housing, they’d back it, he said. (Sinn Fein Doolan’s response later was along the lines of: if they wanted 80 percent, why didn’t they table a motion for that?)
The Anti-Austerity Alliance’s Michael O’Brien said that it wouldn’t be a problem to build entirely social housing estates. “It’s a very convenient myth that’s been propagated here that we can’t have higher levels,” he said.
So what comes next? For O’Devaney Gardens and St Michael’s Estate, which are at an earlier stage of development, the council will be drilling down into the details, so there are more specifics about what should go where.
For the Oscar Traynor Road site, the council will move to engage with developers who want to work within the brief of what the council wants for plots there.
It’s far from all decided, and councillors are still watching closely for more details about what will in the end go where on the sites.
Labour’s Gilliland says that she wants to see a community hub included for local activities, plus a crèche, play areas for those without gardens, and sports facilities within easy reach.