Sinn Féin spokesperson on Housing Eoin Ó Broin TD has called for the controversial O’Devaney Gardens development with Bartra to be ‘scrapped’ after a decision by An Board Pleanala which clears the way for the developer to sell hundreds of apartments to cuckoo funds.
Teachta Ó Broin said:
“The O’Devaney Gardens development has been controversial from the outset. This important Dublin City Council site could have delivered 800, 100% affordable homes.
“Instead Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, at both Council and in Government, gifted the land to a developer who will deliver homes at a cost of €450,000.
“30% of the homes will be bought back by Dublin City Council as social homes. 20% will be sold at prices of up to €320,000 plus a €97,000 shared equity charge that has to be repaid to the Council.
“The remaining half of the development can now be sold to a cuckoo fund, following an amendment to the original planning decision by An Board Pleanala.
“Last September the Board included a condition in the grant of planning that the private homes could not be sold to institutional investors. They would either have to be sold on the open market to owner occupiers or to an Approved Housing Body for cost rental.
“Bartra, the developer, lodged a judicial review on the grounds that last summer the Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien had exempted apartments from his planning regulations banning the bulk sale of homes to cuckoo funds. Only houses and duplex are covered by this ban.
“While the Judicial Review is pending, an Board Pleanala have amended their planning decision, clarifying that the ban on bulk purchases will not apply to apartments.
“This clears the way for Bartra to enter into a forward purchase agreement with an institutional investor for the private apartments.
“Separately Dublin City Council, the Department of Housing and an approved housing body are engaged in talks with Bartra to see if a bulk purchase of the apartments could allow cost rental units to be included in the scheme.
“However the talks have been deadlocked for months because the price Bartra is expecting to charge would make the cost of renting the apartments prohibitively expensive.
“One of the consequences of the An Board Pleanala decision is that it strengthens Bartra’s hand in their talks with Government. They can repeat their earlier threat to sell the apartments to a fund if the Government doesn’t finance the purchase of the apartments at prices of around €450,000.
“The O’Devaney Gardens deal is a scandal. The decision by An Board Pleanala to revise their planning permission is futher evidence of why this is a bad deal for both the local community, who desperately need affordable homes, and for the taxpayer.
“The deal should be scrapped and Government should fund Dublin City Council to develop it as a 100% affordable housing development with social, cost rental and affordable purchase homes, all at prices that working families can actually.”
ABP planning decision revision is available to view here