Friday 20 June 2008

The long goodbye continues for Ballymun's famous tower blocks

LIKE Irish Rail they're getting there, but aren't quite there yet.

Eleven years after the beginning of the regeneration of Ballymun, work is continuing on the rehousing of more than 2,200 families in the north Dublin area.

At the launch of the Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL) completion report yesterday, contracts manager Eamon Farrelly admitted that things have taken longer and been more expensive than envisaged.

Much of this overrun was due to moving services to the new homes.

But he said the long-term benefits to the community and the Exchequer will mean it is time and money well spent. In 1999 the estimated cost of the project was €442m, but this has now soared to €942m. Of this, €290m is due to inflation.

"In the end there will be a reduced cost to the Exchequer because there will be reduced costs in such areas as health and maintenance of the housing," he said.

To date, 14 of the original 36 towers and blocks of apartments have been demolished, with a further eight due to be demolished by the end of the year. Just under 1,400 new homes are now occupied with another 800 families still living in the flats and waiting to be rehoused.

Lead architect Derry Solon said they have created five distinct neighbourhoods and will be building a town centre.

"We wanted to create streets rather than just open anonymous spaces," he said.

"We will end up with streets with names rather than places with no names."

Linda Brogan (37), the most recent resident to take possession of a three-bed home, said she never thought this day would come. She had lived in Ballymun flats for 16 years with her sons Lee (18) and Joe (17).

"I never thought when they were talking about the regeneration programme that I would actually be living in a house some day," she said.

Although the programme was due to finish in 2006, work will continue until 2012.

Edel Kennedy
Irish Independent

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