In 2016 a 72.8 acre site located in Clondalkin close to Grange Castle and Corkagh Park was selected by South Dublin County Council management for a so called ‘joint venture’ project involving a private developer.
At a special meeting of SDCC in April 2017 a presentation was given by management including a masterplan of the site with a total of 892 units of which 30% would be social housing. A vote was taken on whether or not to proceed with the project with 23 votes in favour and 4 against, all four being members of People Before Profit or Solidarity.
People Before Profit expressed concern that this would not help solve the housing crisis, and that the private units would not be affordable if sold at market prices. We stated this public land should be used for public housing.
On the 10th September 2018 SDCC management brought the project back to councillors for disposal of the 72.8 acre site to the private developer Adwood Limited for €38 million. The proposal now includes the construction of 975 units, 294 of which to be social housing.
Adwood Ltd was set up in June 2018 by a number of developers. One is Michael Whelan of Maplewood, the same developer that got the old Fatima site in Dublin 8 through a Public Private Partnership with Dublin City Council. Directors of Adwood also include members of the Lydon family from The Adroit Company and Granbrind Ltd, both developers. Granbrind has been involved in building homes that qualify for the ‘Help to Buy’ scheme which allows first time buyers to get a grant from the government towards their home. Granbrind also has a history of buying state owned land, such as Waterville in Dublin 15 which land was acquired by the Eastern Health Board.
South Dublin has been at the forefront of the housing crisis. There are just under 7 000 people on the social housing waiting list, hundreds of families in emergency accommodation and rents are increasing rapidly. There are 2700 households availing of HAP who are not included on the housing list but are not in permanent housing. House prices have risen beyond what most people can afford and the Rebuilding Ireland programme is doing nothing to relieve the crisis. In 2017 not a single social housing unit was constructed by SDCC. The current programme of construction of around 500 units doesn’t come near to address the problem and the increasing housing list.
South Dublin County Council owns land in a number of location which would be suitable for large scale development of social and affordable housing developed by the council. One of those sites is Kilcarbery/The Grange. SDCC management argue that this is not possible because the Department of Housing and the Minister Eoghan Murphy will not approve any funding for such a development. However, no application has been made for any large scale project by SDCC.
Even if this is the case, the council could circumvent the government and borrow money for large scale construction. Interest rates are at an all time low and state authorities can avail of very low interest rates when borrowing. People Before Profit and Solidarity have put forward detailed proposals in relation to this which would make it possible and financially sustainable for the council to embark on large scale housing development on council land.
The reliance on the private market to provide affordable and adequate housing has completely failed. The time for radically changing the approach to housing is now. Councillors in South Dublin will have an opportunity on Monday to make a real difference and to put an end to a failed housing strategy.