Monday 16 May 2011

City social housing scheme gets green light

THE FIRST public housing development to be built in Dublin city through public-private partnership (PPP) since the collapse of the system in 2008 has been granted permission by An Bord Pleanála.

Alcove Properties, owned by developer Seán Reilly, has been given the go-ahead for the regeneration of Dublin City Council’s Charlemont Street flat complex near Ranelagh, parts of which date back to the 1940s.

The project will involve the demolition of almost 200 flats on a five-acre site on Charlemont Street and Tom Kelly Road, most of which were built in the late 1950s apart from one block, Ffrench-Mullan House, which was built in 1944. The vacant site of the former St Ultan’s flats, demolished in 2001, is also part of the development.

Some 253 apartments will be built, 139 of which will be social housing units, 16 will be offered under the affordable housing scheme and the remaining 105 will be private apartments.

Shops, restaurants, a sports centre and a multiplex cinema will also be included in the scheme. Unlike previous social housing developments, it will have a significant office space element of about 20,000sq m.

The developer had applied to build five blocks ranging up to eight storeys in height, but in granting permission An Bord Pleanála directed that the maximum height of any block would be six storeys. The board also reduced the number of apartments permissible from 260 to 253, and ordered the alteration of five two-bedroom apartments to larger one-bed units.

The scheme must be approved by the National Treasury Management Agency before construction can proceed, but Dublin City Council said it was “very, very pleased” with An Bord Pleanála’s decision.

Local Labour TD Kevin Humphreys said the regeneration would be a great boost to the community and would create much-needed construction jobs.

“At long last this community will get the good quality homes they’ve been so long waiting for.”

The large quantum of office space and the proximity of the development to the central business district makes this development more viable than the failed PPPs which were more heavily reliant on the rising housing market. Five housing schemes, including some of the city’s most dilapidated flat complexes, were to have been redeveloped under PPP contracts with developer Bernard McNamara.

The deal with Mr McNamara collapsed in May 2008 following the downturn in the property market. Attempts were made throughout that summer to rescue the schemes but these were unsuccessful and the council formally terminated its relationship with the developer in August 2008.

The social housing in the three largest estates – St Michael’s, O’Devaney Gardens and Dominick Street – is to be rebuilt using public money only.

The other two proposed developments, at Infirmary Road and Seán McDermott Street, were not existing social housing complexes with residents needing rehousing and were shelved.

Irish Times

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