Monday 3 August 2009

Two-thirds of residents want housing estate demolished

More than two-thirds of people living in one of Dublin’s biggest public housing estates want it demolished, it has been revealed.

Yet, the vast majority of residents in Dolphin House and Park in the south inner-city want to stay in the area despite drug dealing and other anti-social behaviour.

Local community activists have compiled a report detailing the residents’ hopes for radical regeneration being considered by Dublin City Council. Dr Rory Hearne, regeneration worker with the Dolphin House Community Development Association, said redevelopment work could end the cycle of poverty blighting the community.

“Regeneration of Dolphin House and Dolphin Park offers the potential to end a cycle of poverty and social disadvantage in this large community” - he said. “The cost of investing in regeneration now is only a fraction of what the future social and economic costs of inaction would be.

“As Dolphin is at the heart of a key area of Dublin city, regeneration also has the potential to create knock-on economic and social benefits and job creation opportunities for the surrounding community.”

After Ballymun, Dolphin House is the capital’s largest remaining public housing flat complex, with more than 900 residents - including a cluster of housing for senior citizens called Dolphins Park. It includes nine four-storey and three-storey blocks of flats built in the 1950s.

Key findings from the Dolphin Decides study are -

* 82% of residents want significant regeneration, with 67% wanting full demolition.
* Despite a history of drug dealing and intimidation, 70% of residents want to stay in the estate and 65% cited the area’s neighbourly feel.
* Residents also said tackling the social problems of the area must also be given as much time as dealing with the physical makeover and called for no delays in the regeneration.
* Residents do not wish to have a high-rise development built.

Locals recited verses and sang songs about the estate at the report’s launch in the Dolphin House Community Portakabins. Veronica Lally, 40, who has lived in the estate all her life, said regeneration was vital to help deal with the social problems plaguing the area.

“Regeneration is very important for our community. We want a bright new future. We believe after all these years we put in, that we want something back in return” - she said. “The flats that we live in today are practically uninhabitable at the moment. They’re damp - there’s just so much maintenance you can do.

“Unfortunately in society drugs affect every community. We’re not the only one. We hope through regeneration and through education and learning we can do something about this situation.”

However, fellow resident, Betty Phillips, aged in her 60s, doesn’t want to see the housing complex razed. “I’m really happy where I am in my flat. I feel safe there and I just have the fear that we will be left on a building site for years” - she said.

The report was launched in the estate by Barnardos chief Fergus Finlay and broadcaster George Hook. Mr Hook highlighted the community spirit in the area.

John Tierney, Dublin City Manager, said that, in the recession, it was going to be tough to implement a masterplan for the area, but the council would do everything in its power to work with the community to see it through.

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