“Corrupt and bad planning decisions have a significant impact on people’s lives,” this was once used by the Chairman of the Royal Town Planning Institute when speaking about the decision by Dublin City Council to appoint the location of Quarryvale in Clondalkin as a town centre.
Now it seems that only yards from the same area nearly 30 years later, that the same mal practices are still being carried and directly affecting people’s lives.
In the beginning of February 2018 a number of families moved into their new homes in Larkfield House on the Cold Cut road. The former site of Liffey Valley fitness. A popular gym that suddenly closed it’s doors in August 2016 without warning. It’s customers some having just renewed their memberships at a cost of over 300 euro were completely in the dark. The closure of this gym at a cost of numerous job’s, which included a barbers to the side of the property and hairdresser’s inside the gym itself was carried out by the owner’s Cavvies Ltd. They had recently made an application for planning on the site for a number of apartments. The attitude of this landlord plain to be seen already.
The newly built apartments were a welcoming site to families from the Clondalkin area who were suffering in the ongoing housing shortage due to the lack of initiative from this and previous governments to supply houses to a young, growing population. Families who up until recently had been living in hotels, spending months on end living out of bags and suitcases, in small confined rooms with little or no room for a family of 3 or 4. Living by strict conditions handed down by the hotel manager’s.
Having finally got the go ahead and approval on the H.A.P scheme and being told by letting agents that the landlord would be happy to accept it, in a time when landlords are openly refusing tenants looking to rent with the scheme, they got the go ahead to move in.
The tenants finally started to move in some on the H.A.P, some on the homeless H.A.P and then others privately renting when it emerged that the apartments had been built without the relevant permission. The permission was initially granted for 27 apartments but in May 2017 Cavvies Ltd applied to build a further 21. This planning was refused in August 2017 but they decided to go ahead with building anyway. This was highlighted in the end of January 2017 when a local councilor Madeline Johansson contacted Ray Cooke auctioneers who was looking after most of the lettings and asked them not to accept deposits until the issue had been rectified. They seemed to ignore this request and proceeded to accept tenants money on the 1st of February. The rent on these apartments is in line with the crazy costs for property that are out there with a 2 bed apartment going for 1,700 euro and 3 bed for 2,000 euro. As the council had been aware with issues on the planning the processing of peoples H.A.P had stalled and some had borrowed up to 3,400 euro from family members or friends not realizing what the hold up in the process was. As the weeks rolled on through February and tenants got a good idea of the situation they were actually in they enquired as to where they stood to no avail. Some people contacted the letting agents leaving names and numbers and hearing nothing back or being told to speak to someone in the council to sort their payments out. Tenants being aware of a stipulation in their tenancy agreements that could see them put out if they missed a payment were now very worried.
A meeting was called for the 26th of February in the Rowlagh Community Centre for the tenants to get some answers. The meeting was chaired by Madeline Johansson and TD Gino Kenny arrived to see what was happening. A member of Saoradh sat in on the meeting at the behest of one of the tenants to see if they could help them in anyway. Nobody from Cavvies Ltd showed up to address peoples concerns but there was a representative from Ray Cooke there. He had no answers for people even though he continued to point out to people that at least he had the b***s to turn up and answer questions. He refused to take any responsibility in the whole fiasco even though his company was warned of what was happening and still took deposits they were very much complicit in the whole thing. He was patronizing and arrogant towards people turning the blame on the council and asking people why have they handed out the money for homeless H.A.P and not for the H.A.P and directing people to take cases against the council for discrimination. He was asked what if the planning permission gets refused and his answer was that Cavvies would appeal, appeal, appeal. This was no good to people as their H.A.P would not be approved till planning permission was granted and as long as they had no H.A.P to hand over they would face eviction. He told people get out there and go banging down the councils doors and demand that the appeal for planning permission be addressed as the appeal had been lodged in August and it was touching on 6 months since they heard anything back. It was not the responsibility of the tenants to do this as they are the only people who are completely blameless in this whole thing but are the ones who will suffer more than anyone in this whole sorry mess. Cavvies Ltd will more than likely not answer for building without permission, Ray Cooke will not answer for wrongly taking people’s money after being informed of what was happening and will most probably make people jump through hoops to try get their money back if they do at all. This is capitalism at its very finest, those that have money completely screwing over and taking the money of those who have none.
As of March 26th the planning permission has been refused and not just for the extra 21 but the whole lot as they have been deemed too small. In the refusal itself it states that by reason of its design and layout it would result in substandard accommodation and an inadequate residential amenity. It has a number of issues including inadequate floor to ceiling heights at ground and first level, poor internal layout and the substandard widths of the living rooms in the 2 bed units.
It is the belief that Cavvies Ltd had the arrogance to go ahead and build without permission, that due to the problems with housing in Ireland the Council would do a uturn and pass it on appeal. They took advantage of the housing crisis to increase the profits that they could squeeze from more units. They gave no heed to the awful position they put these unfortunate people in. People who thought that their luck had come in when they were finally housed. For these people the nightmare continues, hopefully they will get the help and support they need and somebody will be held accountable for this episode of absolute greed. A home is not a privilege, it is a right and in 21st century Ireland it seems that landlords are as unscrupulous as they have ever been and continue to be a scourge in Ireland.
“The executive of the modern State is but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie.”
― Friedrich Engels