It’s 10 months since former Labour Minister for the Environment Alan Kelly said that a block of social housing on Maxwell Road in Rathmines was near completion.
On Sunday, the nine shiny homes in Dublin 6 were still empty.
The recent Housing Finance Agency report on vacant homes counted 7,995 vacant houses and 16,321 vacant apartments in Dublin city centre, according to the 2011 census. So these nine homes are just a fraction.
But to some who passed by, the emptiness of the council development was striking.
Work started on site in 2014 and the council said they expected it to be done by 2015.
But progress reports show a series of delays and it’s unclear who is at fault. (When we reached builder Dunwoody & Dobson today, they declined to comment.)
In September 2015, a council report said there was an issue with contamination under the footpath, which meant delays in finishing up the landscaping and external works.
In January 2016, another progress report said that the remediation works for the contamination was scheduled to be done that month.
“There were some small things that weren’t finished to the council’s satisfaction. There was a delay after snagging,” said Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys, who used to be a TD for the area. (Snagging is when you go in to check a new building for faults.)
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said that the development was completed on 4 May this year, just a few weeks ago. It’s unclear whether that means the structure was complete before then, but the landscaping and external works took longer, or if both were incomplete until then.
“The homes have been allocated and people will start moving in this week,” said a city council spokesperson. “The people are from a nearby scheme where they had a de-tenanting priority.”
That’s because the funding for the development was linked to the regeneration of the Charlemont Street flats, said Green Party city councillor Patrick Costello.
It’s taken a lot longer to get to this stage on Maxwell Road, though, than was planned.
It’s understandable that people might be frustrated seeing the homes apparently sitting empty when people need them, Humphreys said. “It’s the same right across the city when you see units across the city that look completed but are empty.”
“I’m not happy that it took so long,” said local Labour councillor Mary Freehill. “We just have to watch these things much more closely.”
Have you noticed empty units that you think should be filled? Let us know and we’ll see what we can find out about them. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.