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Councillors and minister set 'to clash' over future of Oscar Traynor lands

Councillors last week rejected plans for developer Glenveagh to build 850 homes at the 17-hectare site.

Image: Glenveagh Properties

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL is set “to clash” with Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien over the future redevelopment of the Oscar Traynor Road site on Dublin’s Northside. 

Councillors last week rejected plans for developer Glenveagh to build 850 homes at the 17-hectare site – which is owned by the Council – at the junction of the Port Tunnel and Oscar Traynor Road. 

The proposed redevelopment formed part of Dublin City Council’s Housing Land Initiative, drawn up in 2015, which aims to work alongside developers to build a mix of social, affordable and private housing on large council-owned sites. 

Under the scheme, 50% of the homes would have been private, 30% social and 20% affordable-purchase. 

The plans included 428 homes to be sold privately by Glenveagh, 253 homes which would be bought by Dublin City Council for social housing and 172 homes to be sold to low and middle-income workers. 

Critics of scheme had raised concerns about the affordable units under the redevelopment which were to be provided at €325,000 to €385,000 with the Help-to-Buy Scheme reducing the cost to purchasers.

Councillors had also raised concerns that the Council would be tied to the price it would pay for the social housing units until 2024, a price that wasn’t made public to Councillors due to contract privacy. 

There was also no guarantee the scheme wouldn’t be delayed due to Covid-19. In addition, it would be left up to the developer how they would dispose of the new homes, which some Councillors said could include selling them in bulk to a private investment trust. 

Following Monday’s meeting where Councillors rejected Glenveagh’s plan, Sinn Féin called on Dublin City Council to immediately pursue an alternative redevelopment. 

The party’s Housing spokesperson Eoin O’Broin said the redevelopment should be partly funded by a Sites Service Grant from the Department of Housing and that a three-phased approach should be taken by Dublin City Council to building public homes at Oscar Traynor.

The party issued a circular to all parties and Council management last week calling for the Oscar Traynor site to be financed and redeveloped like the St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore. 

St Michael’s Estate has been designated for Dublin City’s first cost-rental project for low and middle-income workers. 

Sinn Féin has said that Central Government and European Investment Bank funds should be used to develop public housing at the Oscar Traynor site to deliver a mix of social rental and cost rental units. 

However, part of the issue looking ahead is that political parties in the Council don’t agree on a future approach for Oscar Traynor Road. 

Labour Councillor Alison Gilliland told TheJournal.ie that she does not favour a development similar to St Michael’s. 

“We don’t want to duplicate St Michael’s,” said Gilliland. “Every area is of a different housing need, is of a different size and has different constraints.”

The Labour councillor said she is not convinced that cost-rental is the best model to pursue at the Oscar Traynor Road lands. It could impact on those who are renting under a cost-rental scheme but who may lose employment in the future, she said.

Gilliland said Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien and the Council are “going to clash” on the definition of public housing on public land for the site but said “a lot of the work is already done” in terms of design groundwork carried out.

Dublin City Council’s Head of Housing Brendan Kenny said last week that it could take another five to eight years before the site is redeveloped. 

Kenny has argued that the Council does not have the resources available to be a developer on a site like Oscar Traynor Road. 

He told TheJournal.ie that “it is back to drawing board”.

“We’ve a lot of housing schemes going on so now we’ve to figure out how we do this. We’ve no difficulty building a housing estate but this is more than a housing estate, this is a village” said Kenny. 

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Kenny said he’d be concerned about the Council borrowing money to fund a cost-rental or affordable housing scheme for the site.

“The key point I’ve been trying to make is that we don’t think we’ll get better value or better quality than what was proposed.”

Councillors have requested an urgent meeting with Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to discuss the future of the Oscar Traynor development and potential Central Government funding to pursue an alternative project. 

A spokesperson for O’Brien said he has “noted the decision of DCC Councillors” and “will be seeking a report from the Chief Executive”. 

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