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Councillors green light O'Devaney Gardens redevelopment after developer offers up 'affordable-rentals'

Councillors voted this evening on a deal with developer Bartra Capital.

O'Devaney Gardens, Dublin 7
O'Devaney Gardens, Dublin 7
Image: RollingNews.ie

Updated Nov 4th 2019, 10:38 PM

DUBLIN CITY COUNCILLORS voted to approve plans for the redevelopment of O’Devaney Gardens this evening following confirmation of a new deal struck with developer Bartra Capital. 

Last week, TheJournal.ie reported that Barta is prepared to give over units which are intended for private housing at the redevelopment for affordable-rental housing instead.

Speaking at the Mansion House this morning, Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe confirmed a new agreement had been reached with the developer after councillors agreed to postpone a decision on the redevelopment earlier this month. 

At a meeting this evening, councillors voted by 38 votes to 19 to approve the plans.

Bartra has been contracted to build 768 houses and apartments on the site. Currently, 50% of the scheme – 411 units – has been earmarked for private housing.

A further 30% has been ringfenced for social housing, with another 20% set to become affordable housing.

However, councillors said earlier today that they have “secured a commitment” from Bartra that 30% of the total units will be purchased from the developer and offered as “affordable-rental”. 

Although the total number of private houses which Bartra is prepared to sell has yet to be agreed, the move could see the end of a deadlock on whether to proceed with proposals.

Speaking this evening after the vote, councillor John Lyons who voted against the proposal said it represents “a terrible day for people struggling with the sky-rocketing rents”.

It’s a shocking deal, most people on middle to low incomes won’t be able to get a home on this site. 

“It further entrenches the Fine Gael model of housing delivery which is fully dependent on the private sector to deliver and it hasn’t to date and it won’t unfortunately,” he told TheJournal.ie

Plans to redevelop the O’Devaney Gardens site have been in place for more than a decade, before the sod was turned on the first phase in the regeneration development last year, with 56 units of social housing expected to be ready at the site in 2020. 

Councillors had earlier deferred a decision on whether to approve the redevelopment with Bartra to allow for talks with Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy. 

In a letter, Murphy suggested that his Department could pull funding from the site if councillors rejected the agreement.

The new deal with Bartra means that more units at the site will have rents that are based on the cost of building and maintaining their development, rather than being set at a rate that maximises profit.

“It’s not a perfect deal…but it is a much-improved deal on the one that was presented to us when we were elected,” Fianna Fáil councillor Mary Fitzpatrick said today. 

Labour councillor Joe Costello said he believed “the right balance” had been achieved for the site on Dublin’s northside. 

The deal – which has been drawn up by councillors from Fianna Fáil, Labour, Social Democrats and the Green Party – has been critcised by some councillors. 

Said Independent councillor Cieran Perry:”[O'Devaney] has the potential for accommodating over 800 public homes but councillors have accepted crumbs. Developers shouldn’t be profiting from public lands.”

The new plans could pave the way for councillors to agree to proceed with a new housing development on the site at the council’s monthly meeting this evening. 

The proposed development was the subject of controversy ahead of last month’s meeting, after a council report revealed that ‘affordable’ homes at the site would cost an average of €300,000, with some three-bedroom apartments priced at €420,000.

With reporting from Stephen McDermott and Rónán Duffy

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