Council Briefs: On Adding More Greenery in Stoneybatter, and Social Housing

Greening in Stoneybatter

Stoneybatter is the next neighbourhood in line for much more greenery, officials from Dublin City Council’s Parks Department told councillors on the Central Area Committee on Tuesday.

They looked at population density relative to green spaces in the north-inner city and Stoneybatter came up short, said Peter Leonard, landscape architect at the council.

But they’re going to go about it differently to how they’ve gone about the Liberties greening strategy, he said. “We want to have a little bit more of a collaborative approach.”

They plan to put in place a process for residents to feed in what they want, said Suzanne O’Connell, another council landscape architect. They’ve done a little prep work.

But the idea is to ask the public to come forward with ideas, and show others backing them too. “To make sure that each project that comes forward is from collective voices,” O’Connell said. “Essentially, it will be a co-designed greening strategy.”

Some councillors at the meeting raised concerns about how plans for BusConnects would sit with this. Sinn Féin’s Janice Boylan said that “wouldn’t be side to side with this”.

Labour’s Joe Costello said the same about BusConnects. “They’ll have to be integration, or they’ll have to be a liaison.”

Leonard, the landscape architect, said he and other officials talked about whether to shelve the plan and wait to see what unfolded with BusConnects. “We decided not to do that,” he said.

That would have meant that nothing would happen, and they want to try to get stuff done, he says. “BusConnects is a big open question at the moment, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with that.”

Boylan also asked: “Where is the space coming from to do these plans?”

Leonard said that was a good question. In the Liberties, there were sites under council control – such as Weaver Park, Bridgefoot Street, St Audeon’s, and the Peace Park – which matched with a need for parks.

Stoneybatter has Phoenix Park and Grangegorman, but also densely populated spaces. “The approach is going to be different, the outcome is going to be different,” he said.

Fine Gael’s Ray McAdam said that, internally, different council departments needed to be on board, too. “I think that collaborative approach is going to be central.”

Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick said that greening the city is key in the Dublin Agreement on policy priorities among the grouping of parties leading Dublin City Council for the next five years: “You can expect plenty of support from us.”

St Finbarr’s Court Redevelopment

Dublin City Council plans to knock down a block of 29 two-storey bedsits at St Finbarr’s Court on Kilkieran Road and replace those with 46 homes for senior citizens, according to senior council architect Matt Carroll. (Nobody lives there anymore.)

That’s more homes that they had in earlier designs, he told councillors at Tuesday’s Central Area Committee meeting.

The plan is for the new homes – a mix of one-beds and two-beds – to be for people who are more than 60 years of age, and for there to be community space and green spaces. The redevelopment is expected to cost €12.6 million, he said.

Councillors at the meeting welcomed these plans. Sinn Féin’s Seamas McGrattan, and others, said the homes should be used for people who want to downsize in the area through the “financial contribution scheme” – whereby homeowners offer to sell their homes to the council, and pay the council a contribution, in exchange for a spot in a senior citizens’ scheme.

That would open up other homes, then, for social housing, said McGrattan.

Fianna Fáil’s Mary Fitzpatrick and Fine Gael’s Ray McAdam both asked why the development has taken so long.

“We’re at least 10 years talking about it at the area committee,” Fitzpatrick said. She’d like to see an assessment of why it’s taken so long when it’s such a “no-brainer”.

Meanwhile, people see student accommodation flying up, said independent Councillor Christy Burke, “in less than a year”.

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Lois Kapila: Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's editor and general assignment reporter. She covers housing and land, too. Want to share a comment or a tip? You can reach her at [email protected]

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