Image of proposed water-based activity centre from Dublin City Council report.

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Turning the Baggot Street Hospital into Homes

Dublin City Council officials are teasing out the possibility of adapting the grand old Baggot Street Hospital building in the south-east of the city into housing.
But the project would be complicated, said Coilín O’Reilly, the council’s head of housing, at Monday’s monthly full council meeting.
“It’s not going to be quick and it’s not going to be easy and it’s not going to be cheap,” said O’Reilly. “It’s a very old building.”
The Royal City of Dublin Hospital as it is formally called is a large and ornate Victorian red-brick building, first built in 1832 and extended in the 1890s, according to architect John Dorman.
In recent times, it has fallen into disrepair. It’s been fully vacant since 2019.
The council has a new “adaptive reuse” scheme, geared towards taking on vacant commercial buildings and turning them into homes.
It is currently assessing the Baggot Street Hospital to see if it is suitable and is discussing options with the HSE, which owns it, said O’Reilly.
Adaptive reuse is when “buildings are adapted for new uses while retaining their historic fabric and features”, says the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland website.
The council is currently shortlisting properties for potential pilot projects, according to a presentation to a special meeting of councillors on the housing committee held in January.
Other council-owned buildings in the running include Arran House on Arran Street East and the former Bolt Hostel on Bolton Street, according to the update.
The council hopes to deliver 20 to 50 homes through adaptive reuse in 2024 and more than 100 homes in 2025.
“Commercial vacancy levels are rising. Once the market becomes suitable, there will be improved opportunity for conversion of office buildings to residential,” says the presentation.
But in most cases, adapting large office blocks is no cheaper than building new housing from scratch and nor is it efficient in terms of carbon emissions, says the presentation.

A Water-Based Activity Centre on Custom House Quay

Dublin City Council has plans for a new water-based activity centre at Custom House Quay, between the EPIC Museum and the replica famine ship, the Jeanie Johnston.
The proposed development would include new public walkways, a courtyard and a new “gangway” to the ship.
“This will enhance the visibility of the ship and its links with the EPIC Museum and the Famine statutes,” says a council report, issued to Dublin city councillors at their full monthly council meeting on Monday night.
The plans also include a second building for council offices and a conference centre.
The water-based activities centre would provide a reception area, changing rooms, training rooms, storage and staff facilities for the existing water sports and water tours that take place there, says the report.
The spot is currently the old Dublin Docklands Development Authority offices which would be demolished if the new plans go ahead.
It was built in the 1980s and is mostly vacant. “It is no longer fit for habitation and incapable of being remediated at an acceptable cost,” says the report.
The project is expected to cost €18 million, the report says, with €7 million of that provided by the National Transport Authority, which asked that the BusConnects route 16 and a new pedestrian boardwalk be delivered alongside the scheme.
In 2019, the plan to demolish the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and build the water-based activity centre was included as part of plans for a white water rafting facility at the nearby George’s Dock.
Councillors initially agreed to plans for the white water rafting facility but later some reversed that decision, as the estimated costs of building it escalated.
Dublin City Council still intends to redevelop George’s Dock too and councillors recently heard proposals for an outdoor swimming pool there, also called a lido.
At the meeting, local area councillors asked that the report on the activity centre be brought back to the Central Area Committee for discussion, which was agreed.

Councillors on the Evictions Ban

On Tuesday, the government announced its decision to end the temporary stay on evictions at the end of March as planned.
But on Monday night, while the verdict was still out, opposition councillors warned at Dublin City Council’s monthly meeting of a tsunami or avalanche of evictions if the ban was not extended.
Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael councillors called for a balanced and proportionate response from the government.
Green Party Councillor Caroline Conroy, the Lord Mayor, said that she had received two emergency motions calling on the Minister for Housing, Fianna Fáil TD Darragh O’Brien, to extend the evictions ban.
A meeting of group leaders earlier on Monday agreed not to debate the motions but instead to allow each of the political groups to make a statement on it, said Conroy.
“There is no way out of homelessness for someone being evicted today,” said independent Councillor Sophie Nicoullaud on behalf of the independent group. There are no HAP rental properties available, she said.
Labour Councillor Alison Gilliland said that the council needs to increase the supply of affordable housing “so we can disrupt those high market rents” but that bureaucracy holds the council back from accelerating supply.
“The ban is not about demonising landlords,” she said. There are lots of good landlords, said Gilliland. “It is about protecting families.”
“There is nothing normal or natural about the crisis we are in,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Daithí Doolan. If the evictions ban ends there will be a “tsunami of homelessness”, he said.
An unsustainable avalanche of homelessness, said Social Democrats Councillor Tara Deacy.
Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney called on the government to extend the evictions ban because the situation is still an emergency. “The solution is to build more public housing,” she said. “In the meantime, we cannot have any more people becoming homeless.”
“There are people in huge difficulty in terms of buying their own house, renting their own house,” said Fianna Fáil Councillor Deirdre Heney. But some accidental landlords are having difficulties with problematic tenants, she said.
During the ban period, landlords could still evict tenants who engage in anti-social behaviour because the temporary pause on evictions related to no-fault evictions only, according to the Department of Housing.
“I hope that cabinet makes the right decision in a balanced way,” said Heney.
Fine Gael Councillor James Geoghegan says that the evictions ban is not a long-term solution and at some point, it will need to be ended. “It has to be done proportionately and in a balanced way,” he said.
People Before Profit Councillor Hazel de Nortúin said she didn’t think the housing crisis could get any worse, but it has worsened.“It’s getting grotesque now.” No one could stand over the conditions that children are living in, said de Nortúin.

Laoise Neylon

Laoise Neylon is a reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at

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