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Dublin councillors will vote next month on whether to reverse controversial O'Devaney Gardens decision

Dublin City Council held a special meeting to discuss the development.

Dublin City Council discussed the O'Devaney Gardens development this evening in a special meeting.
Dublin City Council discussed the O'Devaney Gardens development this evening in a special meeting.
Image: RollingNews.ie

DUBLIN COUNCILLORS WILL vote next Monday on whether to rescind their backing to the controversial O’Devaney Gardens development, after an impromptu meeting ended with no clear consensus on the future of the Dublin City Council project.

The decision could re-open the last-ditch agreement, reached between councillors and developer Bartra earlier this month amid protests in City Hall. 

The proposed motion, set to be debated at December’s council meeting, was backed by Sinn Féin, several independent councillors and Solidarity-People Before Profit. 

It will see councillors decide on whether to reverse their backing for the project, which advocates have called the best deal possible to end years of debate about re-development on the site. 

A report by the Deputy Chief Executive of Dublin City Council, Brendan Kenny, shared with councillors this evening and seen by TheJournal.ie, states:

Following on from the necessary approval given by Councillors at the November meeting we immediately began intensive discussions with the Developer which included legal advisors from both sides. These discussions have gone very well and we expect that the Development Agreement could be ready for signing by both parties within two weeks.

Kenny told councillors that after signing the agreement, Bartra will have six months to apply for planning permission for the development. Work could begin immediately once permission is granted, which Kenny suggests would ideally take between four and six months if the application is successful. 

Under the deal, Kenny said that Bartra will reserve a “significant number” of private units for sale to an ‘approved housing body’ to develop a cost-rental scheme. 

The report warns that “there is no Plan B” and if the agreement was scrapped the council would be “right back to the ‘drawing board’” – meaning that it would take between three to five years to return to another agreement. 

November agreement

At the start of November, members of the Dublin Agreement group – made up of Fianna Fáil, Labour, Social Democrats and Green Party councillors – announced that they had “secured a commitment” from developer Bartra that 30% of the total units will be purchased from the developer at market price and offered as “affordable-rental” in an attempt the end the deadlock. 

The deal foresees the site being divided between 30% social housing, 30% affordable-rental, 20% affordable-purchase and 20% private dwellings.

The “commitment” from Bartra CEO Michael Flannery is to sell 247 of the 411 private dwellings at O’Devaney to an Approved Housing Body (AHB), which in turn will offer these units as “affordable-rental”. 

However, some representatives are now questioning how workable that scenario is in reality and whether the “agreement” or “deal” struck with Bartra was above-board.

At the meeting this evening, discussion focused in part on the details of letter Minister for Housing Eoghan Murphy wrote to Lord Mayor Paul McAuliffe, in which he claimed that claims of a “deal” were made without any consultation with his department and that buying the units earmarked for “affordable-rental” will require significant capital and in order to repay the finance, he said. 

Fianna Fáil representatives pushed back against Murphy and Fine Gael this evening. 

“There is nothing wrong with this deal and I’m happy to defend it all evening,” McAuliffe said. 

Blaming national government housing policy for any deficiencies in the deal, he took aim at “political strops trying to undo a decision of this council”. 

Kenny defended the details of the deal this evening. “It is the best deal possible and I would urge councillors to stick with it,” he said. 

With reporting from Cónal Thomas

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