‘Put 1,135 homes at council-owned land’

by Sylvia Pownall
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THE Solidarity Party is calling for the last council-owned land bank in Dublin 15 to be used to provide 1,135 social and affordable homes.


The ambitious proposal for 75 acres owned by Fingal County Council at Damastown, Mulhuddart provides for 835 houses and 300 apartments at a cost of €174 million.


The local authority is expected to reveal its own plans for the land at an upcoming council meeting – but Solidarity fears it will favour a ‘mixed tenure’ scheme which will see up to 80% of it privately developed at market prices.


An online petition calling for the Solidarity-proposed ‘Damastown Village’ has gained almost 500 signatures in the week since it was launched.


In a video presentation supporting the scheme, Deputy Ruth Coppinger said: “Dublin 15 is a homeless[ness] and housing black spot. Public lands need public homes and we need to develop Damastown now.


“Solidarity is demanding that these lands are kept for social and affordable homes.”
Party colleague Cllr Matt Waine added: “The total cost of our proposal is €174 million, half of which will be covered by affordable mortgages and the remainder will come from Fingal’s own capital budget and the Department of the Environment.


“This is [An Taoiseach] Leo Varadkar’s own constituency and he thinks €315,000 is an affordable mortgage, a three-bed house in Damastown would cost €170,000.


“The Government keep saying that money is not a problem – how then is this ambitious proposal not possible when Apple owes €19bn?”


Under the plan, a total of 835 houses and 300 apartments would be built – half earmarked for social housing and the remainder available on an affordable mortgage scheme.


The council has already engaged a design team to draft plans delivering roughly the same number of housing units – but there are growing concerns that most of the land will be sold to private developers.


Separately, councillors have voiced criticism of the HAP rent support scheme which delivered just 385 tenancies in Fingal between March and December 2017.


Cllr Natalie Treacy (SF) said: “It’s only a sticking plaster to the real problem. I don’t feel it’s working. Is it acceptable to offer HAP and then no other supports?”


Cllr Paul Donnelly (SF) revealed that a recent university study estimated it would cost almost €23bn more to house people through HAP for the next 30 years than it would to build the social housing needed to clear the waiting list. “That figure is staggering,” he said.


Cllr Philip Lynam (SF) agreed, adding: “If you want the answer to HAP, just start building social houses and put families in them. Simple. There’s your answer.”


However, Cllr Anne Devitt (Ind) said the issue had less to do with HAP than the shortage of housing stock.


She said: “Stop attacking landlords. It [HAP] worked when there was supply. The reason it’s not working now is because there are not enough houses.”

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