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Why did councillors reject plans to build 850 homes on Dublin's northside?

The development at Oscar Traynor Road in Santry was set to be a public-private partnership with developer Glenveagh.
Nov 17th 2020, 12:21 PM 27,741 63

Screenshot 2020-11-17 at 11.59.15 - Display 2 Architect's impression of the Oscar Traynor Road redevelopment. Source: Glenveagh Properties

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL last night rejected plans to build 853 new homes on a redeveloped Council-owned site. 

The development at Oscar Traynor Road in Santry was set to be a public-private partnership with developer Glenveagh.

Under the scheme, 50% of the homes would be private, 30% social and 20% affordable-purchase. 

The development formed part of the Council’s Housing Land Initiative – drawn up in 2015 – which aims to work alongside developers to build a mix of social, affordable and private housing on large council-owned sites. 

O’Devaney Gardens and St Michael’s Estate also form part of the scheme. Councillors agreed to redevelop these council-owned lands in January 2017. 

St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore has been designated for Dublin City’s first cost-rental project for low and middle-income workers. 

Councillors last year ratified a last-minute deal with Bartra to redevelop O’Devaney Gardens.

Following that deal, the focus turned to the Oscar Traynor lands, a development on a 17-hectare site at the junction of the Port Tunnel and Oscar Traynor Road. 

Many Councillors weren’t satisfied with the deal struck at O’Devaney and wanted to ensure that a similarly-sized tranche of public land wasn’t handed over to another developer. 

The plans at Oscar Traynor Road included 428 homes which would be sold privately by Glenveagh. A total of 253 would be bought by Dublin City Council for social housing and 172 homes would be sold to low and middle-income workers who qualify for the Government’s upcoming affordable purchase scheme. 

The two-bedroom affordable purchase homes would be priced between €250,000 to €300,000.

Councillors last month raised a number of concerns regarding the deal with Glenveagh. 

Similar to the arguments made about O’Devaney Gardens last year, they said that the affordable purchase homes at Oscar Traynor Road wouldn’t be affordable to couples on lower and middle incomes. 

Under the scheme, developer Glenveagh was due to pay the Council €14 million for the land and redevelop it. The Council would then pay Glenveagh to build the social housing units on the site. 

Council officials argued that the developer could deliver a standard of design and amenity that the Council couldn’t. 

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Councillors also raised concerns that the Council would be tied to the price it would pay for the social housing units until 2024, with no guarantee the scheme wouldn’t be delayed due to Covid-19, and that it would be left up to the developer how they would dispose of the new homes, which some Councillors said could include selling them in bulk to a private investment trust. 

Sinn Féin last week issued a circular to all parties and council management calling for the Oscar Traynor lands to be financed in the same way as the St Michael’s development. 

The party called for central government and European Investment Bank funds to develop public housing at the Oscar Traynor site in order to deliver a mix of social rental and cost rental as well as affordable purchase homes. 

The Council’s Head of Housing Brendan Kenny last night said the homes at Oscar Traynor Road were “badly needed” and said that Glenveagh had indicated a willingness to sell 50% or more of the private homes back to the Council for a cost-rental scheme. 

Kenny said it could be eight years before another opportunity to redevelop the lands arose again and said the Council’s credibility with developers would be “severely dented” if Councillors rejected the plan. 

In the end, Councillors from Labour, the Green Party, Social Democrats, Sinn Féin and independents weren’t convinced and said they couldn’t back it. 

Instead, they called on the Council to redevelop the site itself and called for an emergency meeting with Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien to explore options for how to deliver public housing at the site. 

Councillors voted overwhelmingly – 48 to 14 – to reject the plan with Glenveagh. 

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Cónal Thomas

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