Call for de­mo­li­tion of Dublin flat blocks

The Irish Times - - Front Page - OLIVIA KELLY Dublin Cor­re­spon­dent

Some 10,000 Dublin so­cial hous­ing flats, al­most three-quar­ters of the city’s stock, are in need of “sig­nif­i­cant re­gen­er­a­tion” and should be de­mol­ished, a new re­port from Dublin City Coun­cil says.

Many of the flat blocks, which in­clude se­nior cit­i­zens’ com­plexes, are more than 50 years old and would take “many decades” to re­fur­bish. This would in­volve a con­sid­er­able cost but would not in­crease the stock of homes, the coun­cil’s head of hous­ing Bren­dan Kenny said.

By “elim­i­nat­ing” th­ese older blocks, the coun­cil could build taller, higher-den­sity hous­ing on the same land, po­ten­tially tripling the num­ber of coun­cil flats to more than 30,000, he said.

Al­most 20,000 fam­i­lies and in­di­vid­u­als are cur­rently on the coun­cil’s hous­ing wait­ing list.

The dire con­di­tion of a num­ber of coun­cil flat com­plexes was ear­lier this month the sub­ject of a rul­ing from the Euro­pean Com­mit­tee of So­cial Rights. The com­mit­tee found the hu­man rights of lo­cal author­ity ten­ants in 20 es­tates in Dublin, Cork and Lim­er­ick had been breached be­cause of a fail­ure to pro­vide ad­e­quate hous­ing.

Older blocks

In re­cent years, the coun­cil had moved away from re­build­ing blocks to one of ex­ten­sive re­fur­bish­ment. The coun­cil has also re­de­vel­oped sev­eral se­nior cit­i­zens’ com­plexes, by con­vert­ing two bed­sits into one-bed­room apart­ments through­out the blocks, to bring them up to stan­dard.

Mr Kenny said re­fur­bish­ment and retro­fit pro­grammes were likely to take “many decades to com­plete” and would not nec­es­sar­ily rep­re­sent the best use of coun­cil sites.

“The re­al­ity is that many of th­ese com­plexes are over 50 years old, and are not up to stan­dard. In some sit­u­a­tions, it’s the is­sue of the stair­ways and lack of lifts, not nec­es­sar­ily the flats them­selves, but many are af­fected by mould and con­den­sa­tion prob­lems,” he said.

The con­ver­sion of the old-style bed­sits was re­duc­ing the den­sity of se­nior cit­i­zen com­plexes by 50 per cent, which was “not sus­tain­able in light of the cur­rent hous­ing short­age”.

Un­like pre­vi­ous de­mo­li­tion and re­build pro­grammes, the coun­cil would build first on land sur­round­ing the ex­ist­ing blocks, move the ten­ants into the new apart­ments, and then de­mol­ish their old homes to build more apart­ments for those on the hous­ing wait­ing list.

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