Councillors unite with radical social housing plan

by Emma Nolan
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THERE was unanimous support at Monday’s council meeting for a cross-party housing proposal that will see nearly 600 homes built in Shankill.

The draft plans for the Shanganagh Castle site received unanimous support, including two additional changes.

The plans for 540 social and affordable homes on the council-owned lands can now be progressed; while amendments put forward by People Before Profit were supported, including seeking a higher proportion of social housing and the need to retain the affordable homes as affordable into the future.

The cross-party proposal to develop the lands with 100% social and affordable homes is a break from the strategy used in similar sites across Dublin where large portions of public land is sold to developers through Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs).

The proposal was drawn up by three local councillors: Michael Merrigan (Ind), John Bailey (FG) and Shane O’Brien (SF), for the Shanganagh Urban Village Cooperative Housing Development.

Talking to The Gazette, Cllr Bailey said: “This is the first proposal of its kind to have unanimous cross-party support in the country.

“This is a very significant and unique proposal – there are 5,070 people on the housing list in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown and this will have a major impact on the area.”

Cllr Bailey said that the plans will be a “template for the future” that other local authorities could adopt.

The motion put forward by PBP on Monday night sought to ensure that there would be a greater number of homes available for those on the housing list at the Shanganagh site.

Deputy Richard Boyd Barrett (PBP) said he is delighted that Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown are not going with the original plan for a PPP at the Shanganagh site, and are building both social and affordable homes on this site.

He said: “I am particularly pleased that the proposals for a bigger proportion of social housing put forward by People Before Profit on the council has been agreed. The job over the next weeks will be to try and get as big a percentage as possible.”

Cllr Hugh Lewis (PBP) echoed Deputy Boyd Barrett’s views, saying: “540 homes won’t solve the housing crisis, but it can make a big impact.

“The decision last night to build 100% social and affordable [housing] at Shangangh represents a progressive collective decision by all councillors and a recognition that the only way to solve this crisis is for the council to build homes on the scale that is required.”

Cllr Bailey said that he and Cllrs Merrigan and O’Brien “put their political differences aside” to find a solution to the housing crisis in the county.

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