To the Chairperson and Members of the North West Area Committee
Meeting: 21st January 2011
Update on Prospect Hill
Backround: Under the terms and conditions of City Council Report No. 135/2004 dated 26th April 2004, as amended, Dublin City Council entered into an agreement with McCabe Builders in respect of Prospect Hill to provide 150 apartments for affordable housing, 35 senior citizen’s apartments, commercial, hotel, crèche etc. As a result of the economic downturn, McCabe Builders has not entirely completed the development and a large number of apartments have remained unfinished and unsold. Development Department has engaged in negotiations with McCabe Builders over the last number of months to endeavour to conclude the agreement. Housing and Residential Services Department, Law Department and the North West Area had an input into these discussions. The negotiations with the developer have mainly centered around the following:•
Problems associated with the empty apartment block 2.
Compliance with the terms and conditions of the Section 183.
The undeveloped site and other legal matters.
Unfinished and vandalised duplexes.
Site at rere of hotel.
Separately, Area staff has met with Prospect Hill Residents Committee on numerous occasions on issues relating to the development. Finglas Gardaí has also attended several of these meetings due to ongoing problems with anti-social behaviour, break-ins, vandalism etc. 1
The significant issues affecting Prospect Hill at the present time broadly relate to:•
Undeveloped site (originally set aside for senior citizen’s scheme).
Unsold affordable properties.
Unsold private properties.
Management Company/managing agent issues.
Anti-social behaviour/public disorder issues.
‘No-mans’ land at rere of hotel.
Breakdown of Dublin City Council Procured Properties: The following table gives a breakdown of Dublin City Council acquired property in Prospect Hill under the various categories. Under the terms of the agreement, McCabe Builders agreed to provide150 residential units to Dublin City Council for affordable housing and 35 Social Senior Citizen’s apartments. Unfortunately, with the downturn in the economy, we were unable to secure purchasers for all the affordable properties. Category
No. of Properties
Rent to Buy
5 occupied. 19 deposits. 20 remain unsold under both affordable and rent to buy schemes (9x1 bed, 11x 2 bed). Alternatives options such as the social leasing scheme are being considered for these units.
In block 2/2a (Lindsey Block).
Site for Senior Citizens Scheme
A planning application to change these units to affordable did not proceed.
As a result of the negotiations a number of proposals have emerged, a summary of which is listed hereunder:-
Undeveloped Site: It has been agreed that this site will transfer back into the ownership of Dublin City Council. The following items are worth noting in this regard:•
Legal matters relating to the transfer are at an advance stage and are expected to conclude in the next few weeks.
Work to secure and remediate the site will commence as soon as the legal documents are sealed. The costs associated with securing and cleaning the site will be shared between Development Department, Housing and Residential Services and the North West Area.
Discussions will take place with the Prospect Hill Resident’s Committee to ascertain their views and ‘buy-in’ to potential uses for the site and ongoing security associated with anti-social activities at the location.
There are no short term plans to develop this site for housing. However it will remain as an undeveloped site with housing potential and Dublin City Council will examine any proposals that may emerge in the future.
This site was originally to be the
location for 35 social housing senior citizen’s apartments. •
The Area Office will explore with the residents, the potential of developing a community garden on part of the site.
Unsold Affordable and Private Apartments: •
There are 23 unsold affordable apartments in Block 2/2a.
It is proposed that Dublin City Council purchase the remaining 35 private apartments in Block 2/2a directly from the developer. The Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government have made funding available to support this proposal in lieu of funding the Senior Citizens’ units that were to be provided.
It the event of a successful purchase being finalised, this means Dublin City Council will own all 58 apartments in Block 2/2a. This block will be managed by a Voluntary Housing Association on our behalf.
Finglas Area Office will liaise with housing allocations to provide the nominations from the housing list to the Voluntary Housing Association. There is a combination of 3
1, 2 and 3 bed apartments in Block 2 with a predominance of 2 bed accommodation and this will have a bearing on the nominations. •
Rent will be charged in line with the differential rents scheme. A proposed contribution by the tenant to the annual management charge is under consideration.
The above agreement when finalised will create a situation whereby Dublin City Council will have acquired 185 units in the Prospect Hill development which is the number envisaged in the Section 183 disposal terms and conditions referred to in the opening paragraph. Final finish and fit out of Block 2 will be the responsibility of the developer and handover of finished units will be snagged by Dublin City Council. Once agreement is reached, it will take a minimum of 3 months for the above agreement to be implemented so it will be a number of months yet before occupation is completed. Management Company: Issues in relation to the management company may take longer to progress as the common areas are not vested by the developer to the property owners. Dublin City Council does not have the powers to force the directors of the Management Company to hand over power to the owners. The Multi-Unit Development Bill which was passed before Christmas introduces a comprehensive legal framework for apartment owners. The Area Office will endeavour to arrange a briefing session for the resident’s committees in Prospect Hill, Hampton Wood and Parkview on the implications of the bill in the near future. Issues Outstanding: There are some outstanding issues yet to be resolved with the developer; •
Completion of the car parking area in front of the commercial units.
Potential uses and cleaning up appearance of the duplexes.
Ownership and responsibility for the no-mans land at the back of the hotel.
Conclusions: Accordingly, Dublin City Council believe that the majority of the problems currently undermining the quality of the living environment in Prospect Hill relate to the large number of unoccupied apartments and the undeveloped site which lend themselves to anti-social behaviour and criminal activity.
Although not ideal, it is considered in overall terms, that the occupancy of as many properties as possible together with securing the vacant site will lead to improvements generally. Furthermore, a Voluntary Housing Association who will introduce a well managed structure to Block 2/2a and should help to reduce some of the particular problems and lead ultimately to a better quality living environment for Prospect Hill residents. A further update will issue to the Area Committee as this agreement progresses Useful links: There is a considerable body of information available on apartment living. •
www.dublincity.ie – there are two publications on ‘Successful Apartment Living’ available to download. There are further links available in these documents directing people to relevant information.
www.consumerconnect.ie – The National Consumer Agency has an information booklet ‘Property Management Companies and You.
www.oireachtas.ie – Details of the ‘Multi-Unit Development Bill 2009’ and debate on the bill going through the various stages in the Dáil.
Various forums on the web, e.g. www.neighbours.ie , www.daft.ie etc.
www.apartmentowners.ie. Meetings of apartment owners are held monthly in Civic Offices on the second Thursday of every month starting at 7.00 p.m.
Margaret Geraghty Senior Executive Officer