Councillors seek rejection of Johnny Ronan affordable housing deal

Council’s head of planning says deal ‘disappoints everyone’

Dublin city councillors have voted for the rejection of a deal with developer Johnny Ronan at the Irish Glass Bottle site in Ringsend which would see the number of affordable homes promised reduced from 15 to just 4 per cent.

In 2020, a consortium involving Ronan Group Real Estate, Oaktree Capital Management and Lioncor Developments was chosen as the preferred bidder to develop up to 3,800 apartments on the former industrial lands on the Poolbeg Peninsula.

Under planning laws, 10 per cent of the new homes must be sold to Dublin City Council for social housing. In May 2017, however, in order to secure councillors’ approval for the redevelopment plans, then Minister for Environment Simon Coveney agreed State funding would be made available for an additional 15 per cent affordable homes.

However, a deal negotiated between the council management, the Department of Housing and the consortium on the first phase of 570 apartments, while it would include 57 social apartments, would provide only 25 affordable homes, or just 4 per cent.


Councillors on Monday night supported a Sinn Féin motion calling on the council management to reject the deal.

“Dublin City Councillors see that this is a bad deal. It falls far short of the expectations of the elected members of the local community and far short of the agreed master plan, which stipulated that 15 per cent of the units would be for affordable housing for rent and purchase,” Sinn Fein councillor Daniel Céitinn said.

The council’s head of planning, Richard Shakespeare, said no one was happy with the deal but it was the best the council could achieve.

“The city council, the Department and Lioncor have been in discussions for a year trying to come to some agreement that is acceptable to all or, to put it another way, disappoints everyone.”

He said the council did not have to achieve the 15 per cent affordable housing level in the first phase of the development but had to achieve that percentage over the fully completed development.

“I believe we are on legally solid ground in taking it in digestible chunks. This is best we can do.”

The site would take 10 years to develop and the council would, by the end of this period, have secured the full complement of affordable housing, he said.

In July 2019, Nama began a sales process on the site seeking cash bids in excess of €125 million for an 80 per cent stake.

In July of 2020, the Ronan consortium was named as preferred bidders, when it was reported to have offered €200 million for the 80 per cent controlling stake.

The site, and surrounding lands on the peninsula, have been designated as a Strategic Development Zone. Under this fast-track planning designation, projects approved by the council cannot be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Blocks of up to 16 storeys or 50m are permitted under the scheme but most will be within the four to seven storey commercial and up to nine storey residential range.

The Irish Glass Bottle Company site was bought in 2006 for €412 million by a consortium involving developer Bernard McNamara and State body the Dublin Docklands Development Authority. Nama bought the debt associated with the site from the now defunct Anglo Irish Bank after the property crash.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times