Wednesday 15 September 2010

Council to submit plans for O'Devaney Gardens project

THE REGENERATION of the troubled O’Devaney Gardens has moved a step closer with the decision by Dublin City Council to submit planning permission to An Bord Pleanála for the project in November.

City councillors will today be asked to approve the demolition of five blocks of flats known as “the luxuries” to pave the way for the new development.

The 1950s council flat complex was one of five social housing schemes in the city which were to have been developed under a public private partnership deal between developer Bernard McNamara and Dublin City Council.

Following several delays, the deal with Mr McNamara collapsed in May 2008. Attempts were made throughout that summer to rescue the schemes but these were unsuccessful. The council formally terminated its relationship with the developer in August 2008.

Later that year the council announced it would rebuild the social housing in the three largest estates – St Michael’s, O’Devaney Gardens and Dominick Street.

O’Devaney Gardens was the scene of riots during the summer of 2008 which resulted in several arrests. Violent incidents reached their peak in August when fighting after a wedding led to the attendance of several dozen gardaí at the complex.

Four blocks of empty flats, which were repeatedly set ablaze during these incidents, were subsequently razed. The council now intends to demolish a further five blocks of 80 flats to make way for the construction of social and affordable housing at a cost of about €30 million.

The flats are known as “the luxuries” as they were originally built as private housing in the 1950s but were taken over by the council for social housing soon after construction. However, they are in a similar state of neglect and dilapidation as the other blocks in the estate which were known as “the long balconies”, so called as access to each flat is off a communal balcony.

Some of the long balcony flats will remain after the demolition programme as they are not needed for the first phase of development.

While the plans to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála have yet to be finalised it is envisaged that a supermarket could occupy part of the land where the luxuries now stand.

Local Labour councillor Emer Costello, who will today support the demolition proposal, said she was glad progress towards regeneration was finally being made.

“The demolition of the luxuries, along with the previous demolition of the derelict blocks will give sufficient space to get development under way,” she said.

“Hopefully we could see construction starting by next September.”

The council’s plans for regeneration were superior to the McNamara proposals as they were far lower density with blocks of four storeys instead of eight, Ms Costello said.

While residents were happy progress was being made, there was still frustration over the delays in regeneration, she added.

Irish Times

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