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Plans for 25% of Poolbeg Glass Bottle site to be mix of social and affordable housing welcomed

The planning permission will see that close to 900 social and affordable homes will be built on the site.

Glass Bottle Site.
Glass Bottle Site.
Image: Eamonn Farrell/Photocall Ireland

Updated Apr 11th 2019, 5:52 PM

THE ANNOUNCEMENT by An Bord Pleanála that it has granted planning permission for housing on the Glass Bottle site, which will see 25% of the 3,500 apartments being a mix of social and affordable housing, has been widely welcomed. 

The planning permission sets out that 10% of the development must be social housing.

Another 15% must be used for both social and affordable housing. Today’s decision will see that close to 900 social and affordable homes will be built on the site.

Last year, Dublin City Council entered into discussions with the receiver working on the Poolbeg SDZ site over the number of social houses to be included in the development.

A spokesperson for Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy told TheJournal.ie that today’s decision is “very welcome” and “positive”. 

Social and affordable housing 

The draft Poolbeg Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) scheme set out the fast-tracking of  planning for 3,500 homes in the new urban quarter on the Poolbeg peninsula in Dublin. 

By law under Part V of the Planning and Development Act 2000, developers must provide 10% or more of any housing scheme for social housing – in this case, it would have worked out at a minimum of 350 units.

However, Dublin City Council increased that number for this development in a vote in May 2017. Under the plans, more than 25% of the apartments would be used for social and affordable housing, meaning that 900 – almost a quarter – of the units would be social or affordable.

Following legal advice, the receiver appealed the provision and indicated to the council it would be providing the minimum number. The receiver argues that there is no legal basis to require it to provide more than 10%.

Today, An Bord Pleanála has finally ruled on the long running controversy, allowing for the provision of close to 900 social and affordable homes on the former Glass Bottle Company site in Ringsend.

The document sets out that “a commercial agreement shall be entered into between Dublin City Council, the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government and the owners/developers… for the delivery of 15% of the residential units… for social and affordable housing purposes. These units shall be additional to the housing provided for social housing purposes as required”. 

Reaction

The news has been welcomed by a number of groups and politicians today. 

Labour Senator Kevin Humphreys, who has been campaigning for housing to be built on the vacant site for years, said to reduce the social housing allocation, after the agreement was made in good faith, was indefensible.

The Labour senator told TheJournal.ie that the focus and pressure is now on the Department of Housing and whether they can deliver such numbers of social housing on the site.

With the country in the midst of a housing crisis, he said it is vital that fast-track building gets underway as soon as possible, adding that delays have affected this site for close to 20 years. 

Business group Dublin Chamber has also welcomed the approval, saying that the delivery of new homes in the Poolbeg area cannot come quick enough.

“We’ve been talking about building houses on the Poolbeg West site for far too long. The granting of planning permission means that the talking can finally stop and the building work can begin,” Dublin Chamber CEO Mary Rose Burke said.

The Poolbeg scheme was intended to be a fast-track project, with construction due to have started in 2017. Two years later and a spade is yet to enter the ground. The sooner work begins, the better.

Sinn Féin housing spokesperson Eoin Ó Broin has welcomed the announcement, but added “now that the planning process is complete, the ball is firmly in Minister Eoghan Murphy’s court”. 

It is he and his Department that can ensure the affordable units are delivered at genuinely affordable price.

“He must not allow the commercial caveats contained in An Bord Pleanála’s amendment to be used by the Receiver to avoid the 25% requirement.

 
“The Minister must now sit down with Dublin City Council and the local community to explain exactly how these much needs homes will be delivered at prices that modest income families can afford.”

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Build-to-rent

An Bord Pleanala also sets out that where the scheme is a dedicated build-to-rent, to avoid the “domination of any particular unit mix or tenure” any such build-to-rent proposal shall be limited to 100-150 units. 

The planning permission also requires for there to be community and cultural spaces on the site, with An Bord Pleanala stating that the scheme should provide for 40 artists’ studios in various sites. 

In terms of traffic, the document states that “the matter of heavy traffic on South Bank Road needs to be addressed”, adding that Dublin City Council will work with the National Transport Authority (NTA) and Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) to “refine the route of the South Prot Access and Eastern Bypass Corridor”. 

The decision today will mean there is a new village just 20 minutes away from the city centre, said the senator, which he added is welcome news.

With reporting by Hayley Halpin

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