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Is housing the best use of this prime city centre site?

(Stock picture)
(Stock picture)

It’s very good news that the Government finally appears to be moving to provide quality affordable housing for low and middle-income earners.

St Michael’s Estate in Inchicore is a prime site, close to the city centre with good transport links, and the fact that State-owned land will be used to deliver social and affordable homes at scale is to be welcomed.

But it involves a trade-off.

There is no doubt that Dublin City – indeed all city councils – need homes to cater for all income groups, but could alternatives for this site have been a better solution?

St Patrick’s Athletic FC had drawn up plans for a major development to include homes, a shopping centre with leisure facilities, but also a 12,000-seat stadium which would sit on top of the development. The backers said it would “transform Inchicore”.

But that dream appears to have died, to be replaced with a Government scheme of high-density housing. To repeat: providing social and affordable units is a good thing, but given the plethora of land controlled by local authorities and public bodies across the capital, should the stadium have been developed – with perhaps a higher degree of social and affordable housing – to bring something completely different to that side of the city?

Not only would it draw people into the area, utilising the Luas, bus routes, or walking and cycling, it would also provide a welcome boost to the local economy, including the pubs and shops.

There would also be construction jobs, to be followed by full and part-time positions to cater for match days, concerts, and all the other events which take place in modern stadiums.

The State has identified around 700 publicly owned sites across the country, many of which are in Dublin. Some are large, like St Michael’s, while others are smaller, like the Convent Lands in nearby Drimnagh.

The St Michael’s plan has been a long time in development, and the Government should be commended for taking steps to provide cost-rental homes. Bringing something different to this side of the city doesn’t appear to be a runner in this case, but alternatives are worth considering on other sites.

Irish Independent

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