Wednesday 29 July 2009

Residents vote for demolition of flats and site renewal

RESIDENTS at a troubled flats complex have voted decisively for its demolition and the development of a new estate.

The results of a consultation process at Dolphin House, located in Dublin’s south inner city, will now lead to the drawing up of a "master plan" by Dublin City Council (DCC).

But council manager John Tierney told residents at Dolphin House, the second largest public flats complex in the country, the redevelopment would take time.

Dolphin House came under the spotlight three months ago when a local drug dealing gang subjected residents to a campaign of intimidation. This was in retaliation to an intensive garda operation in the complex which forced the gang to move its business elsewhere.

During the intimidation, 29 residents had their cars damaged, threats were daubed on walls, a community meeting was interrupted by a bomb scare and local activists were targeted.

A consultation report, Dolphin Decides, published yesterday found 82% of the 920 residents wanted significant regeneration, with 67% opting for full demolition.

Some 70% of residents wanted to stay in the estate and 65% said Dolphin’s greatest asset was its neighbours.

The process was carried out by the Dolphin House Community Development Association (DHCDA) after it secured agreement from DCC for resident consultation before any redevelopment.

The Dolphin Decides report found:

* much of the physical fabric of the estate is poor, especially Dolphin Park’s housing for the elderly, which falls "below any minimum standards"

* there is a "serious problem" of waste clogging up baths, showers, sinks and toilets leaving them unusable for hours and "sometimes days"

* absence of play areas and safe spaces means many families are afraid to allow their children out to play

* there are "serious social problems" including drugs and intimidation

DHCDA chair Jim Lawlor was it was vital the report’s findings were implemented.

Mr Tierney welcomed the report, but added: "I’m not going to stand here today and kid you, that in these financial times that delivery is going to be easy." But he said a project architect would be appointed this autumn.

Resident Debbie Mulhall, a mother-of-two, said: "There’s a good vibe about this redevelopment. It will take time because of the recession, but the community need it to work."

Resident Veronica Lally said: "I hope the report is implemented. I really hope this time we are not let down."

The report was launched during the Dolphin House annual summer festival.

Irish Examiner

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