South Dublin County Council slammed for selling public site

by Padraig Conlon

A plan to build up to 500 new social, affordable and private homes in Tallaght has been met with a mixed reaction.

At the March county council meeting on Monday, a proposal by council management to build 500 homes in Killinarden through a joint venture project was approved by 28 votes to 8 votes.

The proposed mix for the site is for 300 affordable homes, with 100 private and with an extra 100 social homes provided.

The development will also include a new community centre and sports pavilion to meet the community and sporting needs of residents.

However, following the vote on Monday night, Sinn Fein Housing spokesperson Eoin O Broin blasted the councillors who voted in favour of selling public land to a private developer to deliver the homes.

He said: “It is deeply disappointing that a majority of councillors on South Dublin County Council (SDCC) last night voted to sell a key public site in Killinarden.

“This is a huge opportunity lost to deliver 500 public homes to meet social, affordable cost-rental and affordable leasehold purchase needs.

“The deal is similar to the one on the O’Devaney Gardens site in Dublin city.

“Some 200 social homes, 200 discount market price homes and 100 open market homes will be delivered on the Killinarden site.

“The discount purchase homes are wrongly being described as ‘affordable homes’. The sale price will be set at a 15% discount on the open market price.

“However, the 15% discount will have to be paid back to the State at a future point.

“This is not genuinely affordable housing.

“For example, according to the figures presented last night, the market value of a four-bed is €340,000; with the 15% discount, the price is €289,000.

“When the affordable purchaser eventually wants to sell the home or leave it to their children, they will have to find the 15% cost difference.

“A better use of this land should have been 33% social, 33% cost rental and 33% affordable purchase.

“Unfortunately, neither central government nor the majority of councillors on SDCC have any interest in putting the interests of working families ahead of investors and developers,” said Deputy O Broin.

However, Cllr Ed O’Brien, leader of the Fianna Fail group on SDCC, criticised the decision of Sinn Fein councillors to vote against the proposal.

He said: “This is another step in the right direction from SDCC, and one which will deliver vital homes for those across the county who most need them.

“This was the first major development brought before the council following the [2020 General] Election, where Sinn Fein made endless promises in relation to housing.

“This was an opportunity to build 500 houses, and it was voted against by some parties for purely philosophical reasons.

‘Desperate’

“The people who I engage with every day, who are desperately in need of homes, cannot afford to wait for those homes – they are not concerned by philosophical arguments put forward by parties like Sinn Fein and Solidarity/People Before Profit.

“Fianna Fail is committed to the delivery of homes. Our council is hugely constrained by the lack of government intervention in the housing system; however, that should not prevent local councillors from delivering homes being delivered by the council in spite of those constraints,” he said.

Meanwhile, Cllr Madeleine Johansson (PBP) took aim at Fine Gael.

She said: “It is welcome that the numbers on this site include more affordable and social homes than previous projects such as Kilcarbery, where 70% were private.

“However, this proposal is a continuation of the Fine Gael government’s Rebuilding Ireland plan, and once again involves the selling of public land to a private developer.

“Following the historic general election recently, it is possible that a new national housing policy will be developed.

“Instead of going ahead with a development which includes using public land for private housing, the council should develop this site directly for social and real affordable homes.

“As of January, there were 6,846 households on the housing list, according to the monthly statistics report, and 587 individuals and families registered as homeless.

“Housing is needed urgently – however, similar projects have taken up to two years to get to the stage of starting construction.

“Housing could be built quicker, and cheaper, if it was developed directly by the council,” she said.

Independent Councillor Francis Timmons explained why he voted in favour of the proposal.

“I voted for the provision of 500 homes, sports facilities and a community centre in Killinarden,” he said.

“80% of the homes are social and affordable.

“Some voted against but the majority voted for it, we can sit around talking about a crisis or we can do something about it!”

With 100 social , 300 affordable and 100 private – This will be the first affordable housing scheme in south Dublin in more than a decade.’’

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