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Dublin: 14 °C Friday 10 July, 2020

'Intense discussions' underway to deliver 900 affordable homes on Poolbeg site

A public hearing on the plan is due this month.

Image: Sam Boal/Rolling News

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL will enter into discussions with the receiver working on the Poolbeg SDZ site over the number of social houses to be included in the development.

The draft Poolbeg Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) scheme will see the fast-track planning of 3,500 homes in the new urban quarter on the Poolbeg peninsula in Dublin. A public hearing on the plan is due this month.

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 last May, 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%.

But now a letter sent to councillors yesterday by Dublin City Council assistant chief executive Richard Shakespeare says that the council will try to negotiate a commercial agreement to build the remaining 550 units.

Shakespeare’s letter says that while he was “disappointed” with the stance of the receiver, he is proposing to enter into “a period of intense discussions” with the objective of entering a binding agreement before the Bord Pleanala decision on the appeal.

“The aim of any such agreement will be to ensure the delivery of the additional units to Dublin City Council for use as affordable housing.”

The commercial agreement would be separate from the Part V agreement, but it is not yet clear who would fund it.

Sinn Féin councillor Chris Andrews told that the SDZ needs the 900 units.

“There has to be the extra 550 for this to make sense. That’s what we agreed at council level. In any community, there has to be a mix of social, affordable and private housing. Ringsend and Irishtown are long-standing communities. For the new communities to blend they need a mix.

And it’s important that people who are working can afford to buy a house.

The Green Party leader Eamon Ryan, who shares a constituency with the Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy (where the Poolbeg site is located), said the original agreement included 900 affordable and social homes. He told that it is his understanding that the Housing Minister at the time, Simon Coveney, signed off on that provision being included in the deal.

“I think for the developer, and the minister, who would be party to that deal to have abandoned the deal done is a hugely serious issue,” said Ryan.

Coveney was the original minister, said Ryan, but he believes Murphy should have to come back to clarify and explain why the deal with Dublin City Council “is being broken”.

Ryan said areas such as Dublin 2, 4, 6 and 8 need to have a mix of housing – both private and social. “You don’t want these areas turning into millionaire’s row, we do not want to go down the road of a city that is segregated,” he said, adding that the tech and finance sector should not be allowed buy up these areas.

“We have to have a mix and 10% is not enough of a mix,” said Ryan.

“This is a really big opportunity, it is a huge land bank.”

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“We need more than that 10%, the government signed up to that, and the developer had signed up to that. If they are going to renege on that agreement, I think minister should intervene. I think it is wholly inappropriate.”

The new urban quarter, Poolbeg West, is set to include supermarkets, cafes and a hotel, providing 700 new jobs.

Dublin Port Company, a state body, owns half of the Poolbeg development area.

A statement from the Department of Housing said:

“The Department & Minister remain absolutely committed to working with both Dublin City Council, any relevant housing bodies (AHB’s) and the receiver/developers of the Poolbeg SDZ area in securing additional social and affordable housing from this site over and above the normal Part V obligations and of the order of magnitude laid out in the adopted scheme.”

With reporting by Christina Finn

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