20/05/2008

Social Housing Project Collapse 'Blow To The Most Vulnerable'

Dublin City Council has confirmed a private developer has pulled out of five multi-million euro social housing schemes, which would have delivered thousands of housing units.

The public-private partnership (PPP) projects - worth over €900m - were to be built by Castlehorn Construction, owned by businessman Bernard McNamara.

He has decided not to go ahead with the plans due to the current economic climate and "substantial" changes in the housing market, as well as the costs of recent changes to building regulations involving increased apartment sizes and better energy efficiency.

A Dublin council spokesperson, said: "Current economic climate and the substantial changes that have taken place in the residential housing sector recently, have rendered these projects unviable, from the private partner's perspective, as the PPP concept was partly based on the sale of private units to fund the cost of new social and affordable units being provided free to Dublin City Council."

The statement also revealed the tenants are now its priority, and the council will "explore its options for regenerating these areas" and provide social and affordable housing for its tenants.

Terence Flanagan, Fine Gael housing spokesman, described the collapse of the deal as a "blow to the most vulnerable".

He continued, accusing Taoiseach Brian Cowen of "mismanaging" the economy, saying: "The waiting lists for social and affordable housing in Dublin are the highest in the country and this deal collapse, due to Cowen's property crash, means that these people face an uncertain future.

"It is time the Government re-examines direct provision of social and affordable housing units to ensure the most vulnerable get a roof over their head."

The redevelopment of St Michael's Estate in Inchicore, will be particularly hit by the news, as €265m was to be invested in the regeneration - which was planned since 2001. Of the 11 tower blocks making up the development, seven have now been demolished.

The Labour Party have called upon Dublin City Council to come up with an alternative plan for the 138 units at St Michael's Estate, to ensure those affected by the plans will be housed.

(JM/NS)

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