PLANS to build social and affordable apartments in an exclusive area of Dublin 4 have hit a major stumbling block following cross-party objections from two TDs and two local councillors.
Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton and Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews have both sent letters to Dublin City planners opposing the development, as have Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartan and Progressive Democrat Councillor John Kenny.
Developer Sean Dunne had hoped to build the 16 apartments on Church Avenue in Sandymount in order to fulfil his obligations to provide affordable housing as part of the redevelopment of the Jurys Berkeley Court site in nearby Ballsbridge.
The politicians' objections, coupled with those of the Sandymount and Merrion Residents' Association and 12
individual local residents, could yet imperil the plan to provide much-needed homes for young families from the Ringsend area looking to get their first foothold on the property ladder.
Ms Creighton's objection to the modern four-storey apartment block, on the grounds that it "would not be in the interests of the proper planning and sustainable development of the area", is especially surprising, given her recent comments on the property market in this newspaper.
In an interview for the Sunday Independent's Paper Prophet column on January 6, Ms Creighton -- who earns a basic TD's salary of €108,500 -- complained of not being able to "secure a mortgage", claiming that the "property market [in Dublin] is simply out of my league" because of the "spiralling house prices".
Ms Creighton's opposite number in Dublin South East, Fianna Fail TD Chris Andrews, objected to the social and affordable homes on five separate grounds.
In his email sent to Dublin City planners on January 30, Mr Andrews complains that the development would be out of scale with the existing area, had been objected to by local residents, and would set a bad precedent for the conservation of urban villages.
Fine Gael Councillor Paddy McCartan complains the apartments are not designed for families, with only one three-bedroom apartment proposed for the development.
According to the planning files obtained by the Sunday Independent, PD councillor John Kenny took time out during his lunch hour at Brown Brothers Harriman Investment Bank to lodge his objection to the development at Church Avenue. In a letter sent from his work email address at 1:56pm on January 31, Mr Kenny objects to the development on four grounds, claiming it goes against the provisions of the current Dublin City Development Plan.
One of Mr Kenny's principal arguments is that the proposed apartment development "does not protect the historic nature of the [Sandymount and Irishtown] area".
Besides his proposals for social and affordable housing on Church Avenue, Sean Dunne has so far pledged another two sites in the Dublin docklands area to Dublin City Council for the same purpose.
The inclusion of social and affordable accommodation on the site of the former Jurys Berkeley Court lands in Ballsbridge is understood to be unfeasible, given the likelihood of significant management and concierge fees that will be levied on the apartments built there.