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Dublin: 15 °C Thursday 13 August, 2020
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Two housing bodies appointed as O'Devaney Gardens redevelopment set to progress next week

Tuath and Circle Housing Association have been selected by the Council to negotiate with Bartra after Councillors last year approved a last-minute deal.

20200602_113859 O'Devaney Gardens site pictured in June. Source: Cónal Thomas

TWO APPROVED HOUSING Bodies have been selected by Dublin City Council to enter into negotiations with developer Bartra to secure ‘Cost Rental’ units at O’Devaney Gardens’ redevelopment. 

Tuath and Circle Housing Association have been selected by the Council to negotiate with Bartra after Councillors last year approved a last-minute deal which will see the site on Dublin’s Northside be redeveloped as mixed-use accommodation. 

The site will be divided between 30% social housing, 30% Affordable/Cost-rental, 20% affordable-purchase and 20% private dwellings – 824 dwellings in total. 

Separately, Bartra is due to submit a planning application for O’Devaney Gardens in the coming weeks. 

Last year’s deal with Bartra was struck after years of failed attempts to redevelop O’Devaney Gardens, which was first built in 1954 and originally designed for Social Housing. 

A number of Councillors objected to this deal, saying they opposed Bartra profiting from public land. 

With Tuath and Circle now set to enter negotiations with Barta to acquire 247 units at O’Devaney to then rent as ‘Cost Rental’ – in which rents are determined by how much each unit was built for – questions remain over where funding will come from to buy these units from Bartra, and how much each unit will cost to build. 

Bartra last year gave a “commitment” to sell 247 of the 411 private dwellings at O’Devaney to an Approved Housing Body (AHB), which in turn will offer these units for sale to become ‘Cost Rental’ units. 

Sinn Féin Housing Spokesperson Eoin O’Broin said he is “concerned” that ‘Cost Rental’ prices for tenants at O’Devaney could be too high – in excess of €1,600 per month – based on prices per unit outlined last year. 

“That is double what the Council should be charging for affordable rental in the city,” he said. 

“I would be very concerned Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien is seriously entertaining this proposal,” said O’Broin.

“The money would be better spent building public housing on public land to meet social and affordable need rather than lining the pockets of large private developers.”

The Department has yet to approve any scheme for ‘Cost Rental’ at O’Devaney. Despite objections from ex-Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy last year about this scheme, sources believe Minister for Housing Daragh O’Brien is likely to approve a ‘Cost Rental’ model. 

The Government funds Social Housing but it does not currently fund Affordable Housing – including Cost Rental - apart from its Site Services Fund (SSF), Council Assistant Chief Executive Brendan Kenny said last year. 

“Therefore there would be a significant challenge for Dublin City Council to sustain the level of borrowing required to fund such schemes,” he said. “Unlike the current Bartra deal Dublin City Council would be carrying the full financial risk.”

As a result, Dublin City Council opted to appoint Approved Housing Bodies to borrow money for these ‘Cost Rental’ purchases. 

A spokesperson for Bartra said “at least 50% of the homes proposed for the development will be social and affordable” and that it will be engaging with Tuath and Circle regarding ‘Cost Rental’. 

The spokesperson added that Bartra aims to submit its plans for O’Devaney by next week. 

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Fianna Fáil TD Paul McAuliffe – who was Lord Mayor when last year’s deal was agreed – told TheJournal.ie that he has discussed O’Devaney Gardens with Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien.

“I would be confident that the Department will give approval needed for ‘Cost Rental’,” given that both AHBs will seek finance from Ireland’s Housing Finance Agency and other lending institutions, he said, and not from the Department directly. 

Both Tuath and Circle “will now engage in negotiations with Bartra and at the same time consider how a ‘Cost Rental’ Scheme could be financed,” a Council spokesperson said. 

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