Council briefs: A Confusing Update on Housing at O'Devaney Gardens, and the Latest on Electric Vehicle Charging Hubs

A Confusing Update on O’Devaney Gardens

At a meeting of the full council on Monday 7 November, three councillors asked the housing manager when the developer Barta will start building homes on lands at O’Devaney Gardens in Stoneybatter.

Three years ago, after a fraught debate, the majority of councillors voted to transfer the public site to the developer Bartra.

At the time, some councillors argued that the deal wouldn’t provide enough affordable housing and that the council should build homes on the land itself.

But others said they were too deep into the deal by that stage, as it had been initially agreed on three years earlier, and it was the best they could get.

“I believe it is an absolute travesty that in order to deliver public housing on publicly owned land, we need to first line the pockets of a developer in this city,” said Social Democrats TD Gary Gannon, who was a councillor at the time, and among 39 who voted in favour of the arrangement.

At November’s monthly council meeting on Monday night, Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam, independent Councillor John Lyons and Labour Councillor Joe Costello all wanted to know what was happening with the project.

McAdam said the Fine Gael councillors backed the deal for the development on the understanding that construction would start a month after planning was granted.

Planning was granted back in May, he said. “It’s considerably longer than one month since that took place.”

He asked the council housing manager Coilín O’Reilly two questions.

“In the event that the development agreement falls,” said McAdam, “does the planning permission remain in the ownership of the city council?”

“Secondly, outline what steps would need to be taken by the council in that instance and what the time frame would be?” said McAdam.

“O’Devaney Gardens, I won’t go too much into the detail,” said O’Reilly. “We have the planning since the 16th of May.”

Bartra has had issues with access to the site but has tendered for infrastructural construction works, he said, and he understands it has appointed a contractor.

There are lots of issues for developers of public and private housing at the moment, including labour shortages, cost increases, global supply chain issues, and access to money, said O’Reilly.

“These developers need to get the money in the short-term capital markets to build the projects,” he said. “Construction inflation has gone up 30 percent since we originally received the tender for this project, so it’s hugely complex.”

“The failure to progress the project in its current forms … will add years to the project,” said O’Reilly. “We will have rights to the planning but we will have to do the fine design elements and develop the tender docs and the process that I’ve gone through before.”

Electrical Vehicle Charging Hubs

In September, Dublin City Council launched its first rapid charging hub for electric vehicles at the area office in Finglas.

The council will likely roll-out around 17 rapid-charging hubs across Dublin, said Liam Bergin, executive manager in Dublin Council, at Monday’s meeting of the full council.

All the hubs will be operated by EasyGo, a company that runs charging facilities for electric vehicles.

The council – which has been working on a strategy for electric vehicle charging points – decided last year it wasn’t able to roll-out and run a network of charging hubs itself.

Bergin had previously thought the city would need around 50 rapid charging hubs, but because the chargers have got faster, the number necessary has reduced, he said.

“The technology has changed significantly since February,” said Bergin, which was the last time he was in front of the council. At that time, the charging rate was up to 350kW and now it’s 1,000kW, he said.

It is a balancing act deciding where to put them. “You don’t want people to have to travel too far, because you’re building up more traffic congestion,” he said.

The Finglas hub has two electric-vehicle chargers with four charging spaces, one of which is set aside for a car-share company, and a dedicated ESB ebike hub with eight bikes, says a council report.

It’s all available for use by members of the public, not just the staff at the council office.

Green Party Councillor Carolyn Moore asked what the timeline is for delivery of the infrastructure.

There isn’t one because it will be ongoing, says Bergin. As the technology keeps evolving they will roll out more, he said.

Labour Councillor Joe Costello said that each of the five local areas should have a charging hub. “Try to avoid a proliferation of them in the inner city,” he said.

The councillors noted the report.

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Laoise Neylon: Laoise Neylon is a city reporter for Dublin Inquirer. You can reach her at [email protected]

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