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Significant victory as social housing promised for Cherry Orchard

22 September, 2004

Ballyfermot Sinn Fein Councillor Tony Smithers has achieved a significant victory in the battle to reform the City Council‚s plans for a major new development in Cherry Orchard. At a meeting of the City Council last night he successfully sought the inclusion of 10% social housing in the plan.

At the start of August the Dublin City Manager revealed details of the plan for 5,000 apartments and houses in Cherry Orchard with no provision whatsoever for any degree of social housing.

From the beginning Tony Smithers queried the detail and advisability of the plan, highlighting concerns as to whether the type of housing envisaged could provide sustainable community living.

Smithers pointed out that Cherry Orchard remained an area without basic amenities and community infrastructure. There are no shops, no post office, an inadequate bus service and the only public park remains unfinished. The Sinn Fein Councillor argued that these problems needed to be tackled immediately to improve the quality of lives for those people currently living in Cherry Orchard and that to proceed with such a large scale housing development without addressing such issues would be folly.

Last month the City Manger attempted, in public, to defend the lack of social housing provision in the Cherry Orchard plan by stating that the area already had enough social housing. This, despite the fact that, as Tony Smithers has pointed out, Ballyfermot is "bursting at the seams with local people seeking housing".

At a meeting of Dublin City Council on Tuesday, 21 September, held to discuss aspects of the Dublin Draft Development Plan, including the proposals for Cherry Orchard, Tony Smithers spoke vehemently to alter the proposals to include a percentage of social housing. "We have sat here for the past few weeks debating and arguing over rezoning issues and attempting to address in some way the chronic housing crisis afflicting this city. Here is an opportunity to do something practical and provide social housing for those who so badly need it."

Smithers argued for 15% the plans housing to be allocated to social housing. Following a debate on the issue and with support from councillors from all parties the Council agreed that 10% of housing in the plan should be for social housing. This amounts to 500 homes and is a significant victory for the people of Ballyfermot and indeed of Dublin, which still faces a huge housing crisis.

Councillor Smithers said: "This is great news and it is only the beginning. The Council have agreed that a charter be drawn up for Cherry Orchard which effectively means its back to the drawing board with this plan. There was no consultation involved in the process which led to the plan and this inevitably resulted in a deficient plan. With proper consultation I belive we can now get this right." ENDS

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