Decision on Kilcarbery lands deferred for a month

By Sean Heffernan

There were heated exchanges in the council chamber as a majority of councillors backed a motion, that deferred for a month, a decision regarding plans for lands at Kilcarbery/The Grange in Clondalkin.

A particular bone of contention was the issue of the percentage of social and affordable housing in the current plan, which envisages a mix 60% private and 40% social dwellings.

Kilcarberygrange

The lands at Kilcarbery/The Grange in Clondalkin

After detailed discussions that took place previously at the Clondalkin Area Committee meetings, and a special council meeting on housing last April, council Chief Executive Officer Daniel McLoughlin tried to get approval for the plans at last Mondays full council meeting, maintaining it could go for pull planning permission in four months-time if passed.

The plan envisages the construction of a total of 975 units at a site in Kilcarberry/The Grange in Clondalkin.

The development will consist of a mixture of three and four bed houses and apartments, 294 of which will be social housing.

A new Community Centre will also be built on the site as part of the approval to sell the council owned lands to private developers.

The council plans to sell the land to Adwood Limited, who came out top in a tendering process involving three different bidders, for €38M.

In his presentation to those present, County Architect Eddie Conroy spoke about the streetscape being landscaped so as to blend in with nearby Corkagh Park.

He also said construction will be carried out in such a way that people will be able to move into their property as soon as it’s built, without experiencing hassle from construction works nearby.

Far from plain sailing

However, when the councillors had their opportunity to comment on the motion, it was clear all was far from plain sailing.

First to speak was Sinn Fein Councillor Cathal King, who while describing the design as “excellent” went on to express serious concerns as to what he described as the lack of affordable houses in the current plans.

He was the proposer of a motion calling on the council to defer voting on the issue until next month’s full council meeting, in the hope of their being measures announced in the upcoming budget relating to social and affordable housing  by the Minister for Finance.

His motion was backed by Fianna Fail Cllr Ed O’ Brien, noting there may be more clarity as to the Government’s plans to tackle the housing issue, in October’s budget.

CEO Daniel McLoughlin claimed the plan ensured the maximum amount of social housing possible would be built and that changing the plan as Cllr King had proposed would mean delaying the project a further 18 months

This claim was questioned by his SF colleague Cllr Brendan Ferron, who expressed the view that if all the council officials and councillors fully rowed in behind the plan, it should take far less than a year and a half to sort out.

Solidarity Cllr Mick Murphy was scathing about the plans.

He wanted to see the council itself build the houses on the site, and for it to be a mix of social and sold at cost price housing, which was contained in an option on the plans that he submitted.

Serious concerns over the councils proposal

His party colleague Cllr Kieran Mahon also expressed serious concerns over the councils proposal, and said he feared “this land could become the status quo regarding council lands in the future”.

However, some councillors supported the plans as they stand, with Labour Cllr Martina Genockey stating she was happy to see so much social housing included in the plan.

She went on to express the opinion that “if we delay it today, we will delay it for a long time”.

Her party colleague Cllr Mick Duff also supported the motion while adding: “There is none of us in this chamber who does not want to see social housing built and as soon as possible.”

Fine Gael Cllr Brian Lawlor was also voting in favour, as he thought 297 social houses was a very good number, and he wanted the motion to be passed at the meeting, so construction could start as soon as possible.

However, he caused consternation by claiming the debate on the Kilcarberry/The Grange plans had become “a puppet show”, with other councillors loudly accusing him of being “against social housing”, claiming he had voted against plans for such schemes in the past.

After a roll call vote, Cllr. King’s motion was passed, and a final decision on the proposal has been deferred until the next full council meeting in four weeks-time, which also meant Cllr. Murphy’s motion was also not put to a vote.

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