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Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien
Housing Minister Darragh O'Brien
Image: Leah Farrell

Housing Minister says €600,000 'not an affordable home' as concerns loom over Poolbeg site

A Council official has said the affordable homes at Dublin’s “new suburb” could end up costing as much as €600,000.
Jul 27th 2021, 5:39 PM 39,797 57

HOUSING MINISTER DARRAGH O’Brien has said €600,000 is not an affordable home amid concerns over the potential price tags for units at a new suburb in Dublin 4. 

O’Brien’s comments come after The Journal reported on concerns last month about how ‘affordable’ housing at Poolbeg in Dublin would be delivered, with one council official saying the affordable homes could end up costing as much as €600,000 per unit. 

The 37-acre Poolbeg site in Ringsend, Dublin 4, is one of the last large-scale pieces of development land left in Dublin city with up to 3,800 homes planned for what has been described as a ‘new suburb’ for the city. 

A deal was reached in June between Ronan Group Real Estate, Oaktree Capital Management, Lioncor Developments and the National Asset Management Agency (Nama) on the development of homes on part of these lands after the consortium was selected in 2019 to redevelop the site. 

Planning permission to build the first 600 units at the site was lodged last weekend. 

Under planning laws, 10% of the new homes must be sold to Dublin City Council for social housing. However, in May 2017, in order to secure councillors’ approval for the redevelopment plans, then-Minister for Housing Simon Coveney agreed that an additional 650 affordable homes would be built at Poolbeg. 

However, an agreement has not been reached with the consortium on how to deliver affordable homes at the site – and how much these units will cost to buy. 

Dublin City Council’s head of housing Brendan Kenny said last month that the local authority will enter negotiations with the developers to discuss how the social and affordable units will be delivered. 

“The overall deal hasn’t been worked out but no development can commence until there’s an agreement on that 15% [affordable housing]” he said. 

“It’s hugely important to deliver housing in the Dublin area at the moment, particularly affordable and social and we’ve every confidence they will be delivered,” said Kenny.

He said however that house prices in the Dublin 4 area creates a tension around what exactly affordable looks like and said the units could cost at least €600,000. 

Answering a question from The Journal at a press event today, O’Brien said he not could comment specifically on Poolbeg but said €600,000 per unit is not affordable. 

“I haven’t seen the plans yet, I can’t comment on any specific planning application…but I want affordable homes, €600,000 is not affordable and I think anyone would understand that €600,000 is not affordable,” he said. 

download (29) A computer-generated image of the proposed Pembroke Quarter redevelopment.

“I’m not commenting specifically on Poolbeg I want to say that to be very clear because I can’t…but what I’m saying in real terms what I’ve been focusing on is ensuring that we can deliver affordable homes for working people, that it’s affordable to them, and that’s why we’re moving forward with our shared-equity scheme, direct-build local authority homes through our local authorities,” said O’Brien. 

“Every application we get forward with regard to the affordable fund that we’ve established we look at on its merits but if someone was to ask me in the normal course of events for a normal working individual, or indeed a couple, or a working family is €600,000 affordable, it’s not.”

O’Brien declined to say if he would need to intervene as Minister should the developers attach this price tag to these units, a move several sources have indicated will be necessary as the development moves ahead. 

O’Brien’s own Affordable Housing Bill which was approved by Cabinet in May caps the cost of an ‘affordable home’ in Ireland at a maximum of €450,000, in Dublin City and Dún Laoghaire.

It’s understood that the Poolbeg consortium could propose a deal to the Council and the Department of Housing over the delivery of the affordable units at Poolbeg in the coming weeks. 

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Sources have indicated that one possibility being explored is using a cost-rental model for the 650 ‘affordable’ units instead of putting them on the open market. 

O’Brien, meanwhile, said that the Government’s Housing for All plan – a core tenet of which is affordable housing – should be ready by the end of August after it was delayed last week. 

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Cónal Thomas

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