Sunday 13 September 2009

Flats from hell the city council forgot

RESIDENTS in a dilapidated flat complex in south Dublin, who say they are living in "dangerous" conditions, have called on Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to progress the redevelopment process on their homes, which stopped shortly after it began two years ago.

Tenants living in the Rosemount Court flats in Dundrum are urging the local authority to clarify its position on the redevelopment scheme and say the council has refused to inform them whether or not it plans to continue the stalled process.

Marese Hegarty, who has lived in the flats since 2004 and is also a member of the Rosemount Redevelopment Steering Group, said the local authority has listed the complex as an urgent priority for redevelopment since 1996.

Describing the conditions at Rosemount, she said: "There is no central heating, so if you remember the really bad cold spell in January, it was literally freezing. According to EU legislation we should have had central heating last year and we were told the money was there for it, but nothing has happened.

"The window frames are totally rotten... In one case a window fell out and crashed to the ground right on the very spot where a resident put his child into his car only minutes earlier.

"One resident was constantly ill and the doctor could not establish why and then he found out that there was this crack in the wall in the flat and the fumes from her chimney were coming through. She had a completely lowered immune system.

"We are only 10 minutes' walk from Dundrum Town Centre [shopping complex]. If this place was visible from the main streets in Dundrum, there is no way the council would have been able to leave people living in these conditions."

Hegarty added that the complex, which was built in the early 1970s, has no fire escapes.

In 2007, the council presented the residents with four options for the redevelopment. Residents then chose their preferred proposal. But Hegarty said the scheme stalled just months after Dun Laoghaire Rathdown officially began the process.

"Two years ago we were given a booklet with the redevelopment options on it. There was a timeframe to go with the chosen option and so far the first part of that process, which the booklet said would take only three to six months, has not been completed."

Alison Conneely, a community development worker with the Southside Partnership, said that in July, a health and safety officer from the HSE who took a brief tour of the complex described the conditions at Rosemount as "extremely dangerous".

A spokeswoman for the council said it is currently awaiting approval from the Department of the Environment to proceed with the redevelopment scheme.

"It was pointed out to the residents at the time [in 2007] that any timeframes given could only be used as a general guideline, as approval is required at various stages of the process before any works can begin," she added.

However, a spokesman for the Department of the Environment said it asked the council to submit further details on all four of the housing options for the scheme but he said they failed to do this.

"Ultimately it is a matter for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to make and progress the proposal which must be developed in accordance with the policy framework set out in [the policy document] 'Delivering Homes, Sustaining Communities'."

Snday Tribune

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