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Council decides to take developer’s money instead of social housing

A number of councillors in the area have criticised the move but one said he would support the decision – so long as that money is used by the council for social housing.

Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly at the development in Ballymun.
Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly at the development in Ballymun.

COUNCILLORS IN BALLYMUN have criticised Dublin City Council for its decision to take a financial contribution for a development in Stormanstown, Ballymun, instead of a 20% provision of social housing.

Sinn Féin councillor Noeleen Reilly expressed her “disappointment”, saying she had been led to believe on numerous occasions that this development would have a certain amount of units allocated to people on the waiting list. However, a mechanism under planning legislation called ‘Part V’ allows a developer to pay a levy in lieu of building social housing and the council has agreed to this in the case of the new development in Stormanstown.

“I think the government needs to get real on social housing, while I welcome the additional funding in Budget 2015; it is a drop in the ocean to what is needed,” commented Reilly.

There are over 100,000 people on the housing waiting list. How long are these families expected to wait before they get a home? We have the opportunity here to provide social housing in Stormanstown and yet we are not taking it and not only that but we are also losing an opportunity to address in a small social mix in a new development.

Speaking to TheJournal.ie, People Before Profit councillor Andrew Keegan was also critical of the plan, calling the option to pay a levy an “easy fix” for developers. He claimed it allows developers to make more money on the houses they build, as they can tell prospective buyers that there is no social housing in their estate.

“People see this as letting off the developers on an obligation and people are cynical about that,” he said.

However Fine Gael’s Noel Rock pointed out that this is not an unusual mechanism and has been used at a number of other developments across the city.

“The real issue here, is not that they’re taking the money, but what they’re going to do with it,” he told us. “If it’s going towards social housing that’s a good thing and I’m perfectly on side with it”.

The waiting list in some cases can go up to ten, eleven, twelve years.

He added that as someone who grew up in the flats in Ballymun, he realises how “lucky some people are to have those houses and a great many now are waiting for their own houses”.

New proposals announced by Minister Alan Kelly will require developers to provide up to 10% of their housing units for social housing and the legislation will remove the ability of developers to account for their social housing commitments through cash payments to local authorities. His department said this bill will be progressed as a priority in the coming Dáil term.

Investment of €2.2 billion in social housing over the next three years was also announced in the Budget earlier this month.

Read: There will be €2.2 BILLION spent on social housing in the next three years>

Read: Enda Kenny vows to crack down on cowboy developers>

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