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The long overdue regeneration of St. Michael’s Estate (Emmet Road) in Inchicore is set to deliver 500 public homes on public land. The site will be the first pilot scheme offering 30% social housing and 70% affordable/cost rental housing. Planning permission is expected to be lodged for this scheme in autumn of this year and it is crucial we get this development right so that it can serve as a blueprint for future developments on public land.

A number of issues remain to be ironed out regarding this development. One of the major concerns I, and many others have, is how ‘affordable’ the affordable housing on this site will be. The Government has simply yet to define how it will calculate its cost-rental models. Further, the Minister is on-the-record indicating a “for profit” element could be included. We have already seen through the Government’s proposed Affordable Housing Bill that homes to the value of €450,000 in Dublin are deemed affordable. The silence on this issue has left many people filling that vacuum with speculation and it would be much more helpful if specific detail emerged on what future tenants are St. Michael’s will be expected to pay.

Five-aside playing pitch

Another issue that has emerged in recent months is the provision of a five-aside playing pitch as part of the regeneration of St. Michael’s. In two previous drawings of proposed plans for the site in 2018 and 2019 an improvement on the existing five-aside pitch was included. Following local speculation that the existing pitch, which sits next to to the sports centre in Inchicore, may be ripped out and not replaced, I put in a question to Dublin City Council, and it was confirmed that the pitch would no longer form part of the redevelopment due to design reasons but that it would happen elsewhere adjacent to St. Michael’s.

I found this to be completely unacceptable because a regeneration of this nature should be about enhancing and building upon existing community amenities and not taking them away. Despite the pitch’s current poor condition, it is still used by the local community. It doubles as a football kickabout area and a basketball court. The pitch is located next to Inchicore Sports Centre which is ran by Inchicore College. It could be argued that the poor condition of the pitch is down to the management of the facility falling between the two stools of DCC and Inchicore College.

To avoid such mismanagement in the future, I believe locating the pitch next to the revamped sports centre as part of this regeneration project on the Emmet Road site, and ensuring there is proper management and a booking system for use of the facility, would be the best option.

Dublin South Central Area Committee

After consultation with local community groups and stakeholders, at the June 2021 Dublin South Central Area Committee, I put down a motion urgently calling on the St. Michael’s regeneration design team to reverse its decision and to include this pitch in the final design. This received the backing of all local Councillors.

I received a comprehensive, but still an unsatisfactory, response from the Project Manager of the regeneration project outlining why the decision has been taken to remove it from the St. Michael’s site. While plans in 2018 and 2019 had included a five-aside pitch, “the provision of a pitch was not assessed in detail to take into consideration issues such as safety, access or structural requirements.”

Following the appointment of a design team, “the provision of a new pitch has been considered as part of the overall design for the scheme. Following careful consideration of a number of options it has been concluded that a suitable location for the pitch cannot be provided on the Emmet Road site. However, Dublin City Council are committed to providing this facility and therefore a number of alternative locations have been identified and are currently being examined for suitability.”

The three locations currently being explored to host the five-aside pitch are:

  • Turvey Park
  • Our Lady of Lourdes National School; and
  • Mercy Secondary.

While I don’t doubt that further community sports amenities at the above locations would be of benefit to the local community, I still believe that for the proper and appropriate management of the new pitch, it should be located within the Emmet Road site next to the sports centre for oversight and for access to changing rooms, bathroom facilities etc.

Following the adoption of my motion, the Chair of the South Central Area Committee wrote to the Project Management Team and the Head of Housing Delivery in DCC and we await a response.