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Dublin: 7 °C Friday 19 April, 2019
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'A spotlight on vacancy': Dublin 8 locals gather to protest vacant former factory

The Player Wills Factory site on Dublin’s South Circular Road covers 9.33 hectares of prime city centre land.

Player Wills. The former John Player factory on South Circular Road Source: Google Maps

DUBLIN 8 LOCALS will gather this afternoon outside a site earmarked for redevelopment but which has sat idle for over a decade. 

The Player Wills Factory site on Dublin’s South Circular Road covers 9.33 hectares of prime city centre land and is valued at €23.8 million.

People Before Profit councillor Tina MacVeigh told TheJournal.ie that today’s demonstration is aimed at “keeping a spotlight on vacancy” in an area lacking in green space and which has seen a proliferation of student accommodation built recently.

The Player Wills site, which is listed on the council’s vacant sites register, adjoins the vacant Bailey Gibson industrial lands and has the capacity for 1,000 homes. Recently, there has been a push for affordable housing to be built on the site.

Up until December last year, its loans were held by the National Asset Management Agency (NAMA) but have since been repaid. 

The site is owned by Players Square Limited and, in late December, those loans were refinanced by American property company Hines, which is also behind the Central Bank redevelopment, meaning the site can now be redeveloped. 

‘Cost-rental’

Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan has said that she wants to see a mixture of cost-rental and affordable-to-buy homes built by the government on the Player Wills and Bailey Gibson lands, the latter of which is valued at €13 million. 

To get movement on the site, Moynihan argues in favour of the government issuing at Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on the site and redeveloping it itself under a state development cost rental model.

“It’s the last really big project in the inner that could be cost rental basis that will have a long-term impact on affordability.”

“The private market just aren’t delivering rental units.”

For its part, Dublin City Council has said it is actively engaging with the site’s owners at the moment. 

Officials from its housing department have had initial discussions with the new owner of the site, according to a spokesperson.

“It would be prudent for any future development of Dublin City Council land in this area to be integrated as far as possible with the future development of adjacent lands by this developer.”

“However, it will be some time yet before such an approach could be actively considered,” they said. 

‘Singular-development postcode’

Meanwhile, Moynihan estimates that, based on 754 units that were previously granted planning permission on the site, the land cost alone for each unit would be approximately €130,000. 

Based on the most recent Daft report on rents in Dublin 8 and a 4% annual increase for a rent pressure zone, the site could yield approximately €0.5 billion in 20 years and €1bn in 30 years for a developer if the Player Wills site is redeveloped by the government under her proposed model. 

Under that scheme a mixture of one-bed, two-bed and three-bed apartments could be built.

Today’s protest, which begins at 1pm, is taking place two weeks after Dublin 8 locals protested a council decision to turn a community garden into rapid-build housing. 

Local Samantha McCaffrey says that the Dublin 8 needs housing and that she’ll be at today’s protest. “I’ll be there at the demonstration because I care about homes in our area.”

McCaffrey is concerned that, with an increase over the last few years in student accommodation being built in the area, Dublin 8 is rapidly becoming a singular-development postcode. 

“We don’t want to be used as a reason not to have social housing or affordable housing in our area.”

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