For much of their discussion at Tuesday’s meeting of Dublin City Council’s North-West Area Committee at Ballymun Civic Centre, councillors talked about different housing projects in their part of the city.
Happy With …
The council could fit more than 100 homes – and possible as many as 200 – on a patch of lands near Kildonan Road, to the north-west of Finglas Village.
Pauline Byrne of planning specialists Brady Shipman Martin gave a presentation to councillors on what the lands could be used for if they are developed.
The problem is, the plan is pie-in-the-sky as yet. “All of this is schematic until we have a funding agency, or a project manager,” said Fianna Fail Councillor Paul McAuliffe.
Byrne set out three early-stage options for what could go there, though, if funding ever comes through.
One foresees 105 units, some kind of community centre, and a building for “enterprise or employment”.
Another suggests 113 units, some kind of community centre, some supported housing or homeless services, and an “enterprise” building.
The third, and preferred option offers 202 units, some kind of community centre and an “enterprise” building.
“We want to see something come out of this,” said Sinn Fein Councillor Anthony Connaghan.
With no cheque signed, no detailed design yet, and no planning in place, that is far away though.
Byrne said that the proposals will go out for public consultation in June.
Unhappy With …
Some said they were confused about how, in debates around how to develop land in other parts of the city – for example at O’Devaney Gardens – council officials have said they are wary of putting too much social housing in any one place. Yet for the planned 70 units at Scribblestown, they were pushing for 100 percent social housing.
It doesn’t make sense “that we would have social mix everywhere else, but not at this site”, said McAuliffe.
Labour Councillor Andrew Montague said that a lot depends on context. “This is an area that already has a lot of social housing,” he said.
He pointed to research by University College Dublin Professor Michelle Norris, which looked at seven housing estates and found that two were having problems – one of which was in South Finglas. “It’s been shown to be struggling with social housing, so it’s the wrong way to go.”
Independent Councillor Cieran Perry said that anybody listening to the conversation would think that all people in social housing are bad, and it was important to stress that this isn’t true.
He pointed to the large number of people who would these days qualify for social housing, and warned about confusing income mix and tenure mix.
Dublin City Council Executive Engineer James Nolan said that council officials are engaging with residents and are planning another face-to-face discussion in the coming week or so.
He defended the idea of 100-percent social housing. “We’re not talking about something on the scale of O’Devaney Gardens,” he said. (Plans for O’Devaney Gardens set out 584 new homes.)
Historians and Neighbourhoods
The discussion briefly touched on how Dublin City Council has signed up six historians-in-residence to work with different communities across the city on history-related projects.
The scheme is going to be managed by Dublin City Public Libraries, with one historian allocated to each of Dublin City Council’s areas: North West, North Central, Central, South Central and South East.
Councillor McAuliffe said he wondered if there might be space for a project that looked at the history of role of the Church of Ireland in Finglas East. “It affected all different aspects of Irish society,” he said.
Perhaps there might be a project that could grow into a history trail or the like, suggested McAuliffe. A council official said that they would add it to the list of possible projects.