At least two councillors voted against a motion last week at a meeting of South Dublin County Council (SDCC), to sell public lands to a private developer for housing. Only Cllrs Madeleine Johannson (People Before Profit) and Independent Cllr Eoin Ó’Broin opposed the motion for the sale of council lands at Killinarden to Arden Group.
Both told the Gazette they believe it’s time for the council to stand up and manage housing projects and thereby, deliver the maximum in social and affordable housing to meet local needs.
Cllr Ó Broin stated SDCC already manage up to 100 dwelling on the Nangor Road and up to 20 houses at the Lindisfarne Project (both in Clondalkin).
“I want to see SDCC manage bigger projects such as this one. I believe it will be cheaper in the long run for the council, and we would have the maximum use of affordable rentals and social housing on council lands.
“The Director of Housing stated it’s better that a private developer takes on the risks of rising construction costs but the developer will be contracted to deliver the houses. However, we’ve had developers who went bust before, eg. St Michael’s in Inchicore, and the project had to be abandoned.”
Speaking after the meeting, Deputy Paul Murphy (People Before Profit) added:
“It’s extremely disappointing that in the midst of a housing crisis, FG and FF have given away yet more public land to a private developer… with the support of the Social Democrats and Labour and the failure of Sinn Féin to vote against it.
“Instead, only one out of five houses built on public land will go to those on the housing waiting list in South Dublin County Council. The rest will be sold at extortionate market rates, or as part of a pseudo-affordable scheme, at a 15% discount – but still out of reach of most workers.”
PBP supporters held a protest outside the County Hall in Tallaght, while the SDCC meeting was ongoing. Cllr Madeleine Johannson stated: “I voted against the motion because it is a continuation of the same old policy to sell to a private developer to solve the housing crisis.
“123 of the homes will be privately sold at market rates – houses built on council lands – when all 620 houses should be targeted for local needs, i.e. social and ‘real’ affordable housing provided by DSCC.”
“Council management argues that government won’t give funding to properly develop the site for housing. I disagree with this; we should stand up to the government and insist that SDCC needs to develop and manage this site in full, to meet local needs.”
Independent Cllr Alan Edge who voted for the motion, said:
“I’m notin favour of a developer-led housing policy or of developers profiting in any way from public land but the simple fact is, we aren’t anywhere near a scenario where local authorities have the capacity or resources to build their own housing supply.
“Families and individuals are living in hotel rooms or on the streets; they simply don’t have the luxury of waiting until this becomes a reality.
“For me, building no homes on this site in the short term wasn’t an option. Life exists in the grey area between the best and worst outcomes and the best outcome possible in this instance was the current plan which will put roofs over the heads of a great many people and quickly.
“In terms of affordability, this was the best proposal available.”
Cllr Edge was critical of SF councillors who either “abstained or absented themselves when it came to voting on this issue. People deserve public representatives …to make the tough decisions, whatever side they come down on.”
DSCC confirmed the development proposal comprises 372 affordable houses, 125 social houses, and 123 private developer homes together with a community centre and creche and associated open space and infrastructure.
“The tendered sale price for affordable purchase homes averaged at €263k but the council is confident that with the support of the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage, an average purchase sale price of less than €250k will be achieved.”
Following 2,500 expressions of interest for council-provided affordable homes priced at €300k, SDCC felt this indicates a significant demand for the proposed affordable homes in Killinarden.
Arden, which consists of Sisk Living, Kelland Homes and Ó Cualann Cohousing Alliance, will purchase the land for €14m; following a successful planning application, construction could commence later next year.