Two articles by Olivia Kelly on Ballymun Regeneration. Is Maguire on a solo-run? Bring on the Croke Park Agreement. Subsume BRL into the Area Committee structure

Extra €20m sought for Ballymun scheme

OLIVIA KELLY

URBAN RENEWAL: THE STATE company behind the redevelopment of Ballymun
in north Dublin is seeking an additional €20 million from the
Government to complete the regeneration project.

Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL) managing director Philip Maguire said
the money was needed to complete the road and drainage infrastructure
so that newly built homes could be fully connected to Ballymun centre
and the wider locality.

Some €900 million of public money has already been spent on the
regeneration of the 1960s high-rise estate. The project began in 1997
and is due for completion in 2014, by which time all of the residents
of the old flats will be rehoused.

However while tenants, some of whom have lived for more than 40 years
in increasingly dilapidated and inadequate accommodation, will have
high-quality new homes, they will not be living in properly integrated
and accessible estates unless the €20 million is forthcoming from the
Government.

The money would be used to fund the construction of just four roads at
Hampton Woods, Sillogue Avenue, Balcurris Road and Gateway Crescent.

Some of it would also be used to replace an underground surface water mains.

Mr Maguire, who is also assistant Dublin city manager, acknowledged
the additional funding requirement seemed high, but he said it was
“comparatively small” in the context of the overall cost of the
project and the size of Ballymun.

“At just under 18,000, Ballymun would have a bigger population than
most county towns, certainly bigger than Longford, Cavan, Roscommon or
Castlebar. These are the sort of facilities you would expect to find
in a town of that size.”

The new roads would mean that the communities in Ballymun were fully
integrated and not cut off from one another. Crucially, they would
give people better access to the main street in Ballymun.

This was particularly important, Mr Maguire said, because of the need
of these communities to have good access to public transport.

“The buses mostly go up and down the main street. Going for a bus to
get to school or get to work you don’t want to have a choice of
cutting across grassland or going around the long way.”

Despite the economic constraints, Mr Maguire said he was confident of
a positive response from Government which he said had always been very
supportive of the project.

“In current financial terms it is a significant amount of money but in
comparison with the overall cost of the scheme where we’ve spent €900
million of public funds, and a further €400 to €500 million of private
funds has been spent in Ballymun, it is a comparatively small sum of
money.”

A spokesman for the Minister of State for Housing, Jan O’Sullivan,
said she was absolutely committed to the completion of the Ballymun
project and had committed funding to build all the remaining housing
needed.

However he said in relation to the additional funds sought by Mr
Maguire “it is not possible to accede to this request at this time”.

140 more homes in rebuilt Ballymun affected by pyrite
Related

Regeneration back on track for ‘last lap’ of a marathon project | 16/07/2012
Extra €20m sought for Ballymun scheme | 16/07/2012

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OLIVIA KELLY

UP TO 500 people may have to move out of their newly built homes in
Ballymun in north Dublin because of damage caused by the defective
building material pyrite.

The presence of pyrite is suspected in up to 140 houses and apartments
in two new estates built to rehouse residents of the former 1960s
high-rise flat complex.

Preliminary tests carried out on stone samples in the houses in
Owensilla and part of the Carton estate came back 50 per cent positive
for pyrite – a sufficient level for 140 occupied homes to need a full
assessment.

Pyrite remediation work costing €10 million is already under way in
122 houses in another part of Ballymun. However the defective building
material in the Sillogue estate was found before any tenants moved in.

Managing director of Ballymun Regeneration Ltd (BRL) Philip Maguire
said it would not be possible to estimate the cost of fixing the
pyrite problems in Carton and Owensilla until investigations revealed
the extent of damage to each house.

However he said the fact that the homes were occupied meant it was
potentially a more difficult, disruptive project than the Sillogue
works.

“These two schemes are even more complicated because there are people
living in them. There’ll be a whole battery of tests on each house,
and where they come back positive we’ll have to make plans to rehouse
the tenants. We hope that a good few will come back negative. We’d
like them to all come back negative . . . In Sillogue they were all
positive.”

The final test results should be back within six months.

Pyrite, sometimes known as fool’s gold, occurs naturally in stone.
When exposed to air or water it becomes unstable and can cause
structural damage, including cracking and buckling of walls and
floors. Replacing it with sound material is very costly.

“Depending on the type of house and the construction method it can
cost €50,000-€60,000 a pop to fix,” said Mr Maguire. He expects to
have the work to 60 of the Sillogue houses finished by Christmas and
the rest by next Easter, but the problem will have delayed the
delivery of these houses by three to four years.

The work is being funded mostly through a loan from the Government.
BRL and the contractor have served legal proceedings against quarry
owners Irish Asphalt/Lagan and anticipated the loan would be repaid if
the action is successful.

The pyrite loan was entirely separate to the exchequer funding for
Ballymun’s regeneration and would not affect that project, Mr Maguire
said.