Friday 13 August 2010

Council faces huge glut of social and affordable housing

DÚN LAOGHAIRE-Rathdown County Council is facing a battle with developers to stop a €42 million bill for social and affordable housing from spiralling upwards by tens of millions.

The council has already agreed to pay Cosgrave Developments in the region of €42 million on completion of 170 social and affordable homes within a complex of 848 houses and apartments on the former Dún Laoghaire Golf Club lands.

The development, which was granted permission by An Bord Pleanála just over two years ago, was the first phase of the 1,500-unit residential scheme on the 78-acre site. The planning board yesterday granted permission for the second phase of the development – a further 605 apartments and houses.

The grant of permission leaves the council facing a further glut of social and affordable housing which it cannot afford to buy.

Under the Planning and Development Acts, developers must provide 20 per cent of any residential development to local authorities for social and affordable housing at a discount from market prices agreed after planning permission is granted but before the houses are built.

The scheme worked during the boom years where there were long waiting lists of first-time buyers eager to qualify for a lower cost home within a development and prices rose between the date permission was granted and the completion of construction.

However, with developers slashing their prices most local authorities have found themselves with affordable houses that are now more expensive than similar private houses and apartments.

In relation to phase one of the golf club scheme, the council agreed to pay an average of more than €250,000 each for apartments ranging from one to three bedrooms. While the council would face lower market values for the apartments than in mid-2008, it is still likely to be unwilling to spend more money for housing for which it has no demand. A spokeswoman for the council yesterday said negotiations with the developers would begin as soon as possible.

Irish Times

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