Throwing Up Houses When They Should Be Building Homes

Imagine If Private Building Developers Actually Worked For The Local Authority!

You know those ideas that come to you like revelations and you get so excited for that half-second before you reckon they must be crazy?

So obvious there just has to be a catch …

Or it has all been thought out before, dissed and crushingly dismissed. 

The times we live in, eh?

We’ll get to it.

It came after my early morning walk with Bella and Lily … whimpering ready at the backdoor for egress as I secured their harnesses — as enthusiastic and expectant as ever.

Infectious if you’re open to it.

A luminous pink and yellow dawning sky over the not so distant North Beach transfixed me for a moment as Lily squatted down for pee number one — or pee-mail, as my Floridian friend Kimberley calls them, scent postings for doggie correspondents to sniff through later.

Our Polish neighbour Marcin came jogging by, and he marvelled at the beautiful sky as he passed.

He then did that turning on the spot thing joggers do and now facing me, he stopped. Did I know what was going to happen next regarding our objections/observations on the proposed new major housing development for those tufted acres out behind us, dormant since the housing crash put paid to the third phase of our Golden Ridge estate in Rush, North Dublin?

Ugly enough, but long since a savannah wilderness for youthful exploration and adventure, and where us doggie walkers cross trails and curate the usual curt sniffing exchanges, or steer twitchy harnesses through a growling gauntlet of dissent and arrested mad-eyed lunges.

I told Marcin I had no idea, and it wasn’t long before we descended into the usual twinkly-eyed moans about nefarious local councils and sweet-deal manipulators of the housing development process, and of local democracy itself.

The guff you usually come out with over a pint during a lull in the game you’re half-watching on Sky.

Bit of context here.

Ireland has a housing crisis.

We need more houses.

We know this.

But how we have gone about providing them has been problematic.

Somehow, providing houses here became a business rather than a social need.

Private developers, land speculators and vulture fund operators have driven prices through the roof.

For those in a position to even think of buying them

Obviously, private developers want to jam the most units into their vastly over-priced sites, and sell them for as much as they can get.

And why wouldn’t they?

But, hey, hey, not so fast, Mr Developer Man, what about the possible affects of your development on those living nearby, and will there be adequate green spaces, proper access and exit routes into a town already snailing with traffic, and will there be properly diffused social housing, and all the rest, for those who will live there?

Standing here now looking out over these fallow acres, and tuning into the trill and caw-cophany of the morning birds, they don’t seem so forlorn after all.

Hardly paradise, but they’ll be paving it over soon and putting up parking lots anyway.

And my busy mind now churned out a cacophony of clattering cranes, smelly dumpsters, rattling diggers and concrete-spewing lorries, and the hard-hat army of shouting workers scrambling over the promised land of Golden Ridge Phase Three, and erecting homes for the next wave of settlers who will stake their claims for school places and adequate street lighting. 

Luckily, our local government agency is there to oversee the whole operation, and reach the best possible compromise between the developer’s need for profit and them providing the best possible units, affordable, well-serviced and pleasant to live in

And besides, the people affected by the proposed development will be consulted in good time to evaluate the whole project and evaluate it. 

If only …

So word finally came down that this large area behind myself and Marcin was to be built on.

The plans were already submitted.

So we locals went to our local councillors, they came to us, we citizen residents hastily assembled and viewed the plans — after tracking them down — had meetings about them, argued about them, and finally submitted our individual observations/objections.

And now we are waiting.

And wondering what will happen … how much influence will our opinions have on the final project?

And we are not confident.

And Marcin and I are left wondering how it has all come to this?

Not at all convinced that our own Fingal County Council, the authority responsible for governing the area we live in, is actually working for us, with us, on this. 

Instead, seemingly once again leaving it up to the private developers and speculators to tackle this housing crisis. To shape a whole community and its future.

Sure, they will throw up a few regulations, legal hoops and there will be ass-covering small print footnotes, but really, it somehow feels like they are there to smooth the way for the developer. And they get their cut of the action.

Now many have suggested that the State, and local government bodies, should go back to what was the norm not that long ago: local authorities responsible for building and providing houses, and bankrolling a whole network of people and services to take care of the whole thing, from first draught to last picture-frame nail.

But then it got complicated and somehow the idea gained traction that the State should hire in people to do all this stuff, and free them get on with more important matters.

And now my revelation.

Just flip the whole thing on its head: the private developer works for the local authority! If needed.

Not just on paper, but for real.

The local authority chooses the zones where houses are built, but that’s only the start of it: each local government body has its own builders, buyers, planners, carpenters, architects, cement makers and mixers, eco-heating experts  … everything and everyone needed to provide decent, affordable homes.

And if they need a private developer for anything, put it out to tender, and being a blue chip employer, any serious operator would bend over backwards to get that tender in.

Ha, I hear you all shout … it’s already there … all those local council planning departments, architects, engineers — the works.

But I speak to you of the soft-shoed lobbyists who represent the developers and the speculators sidling up to their local councils and public representatives.

But no, the council is our council, it works for us, surely?

Well, it’s not evident to Marcin or me, or the rest of us waiting here on this massive building project to begin, and the endless months of young fellas in wild-flying high-vis jackets driving diggers like dune buggies up our muddied roads, where our children have to play for want of proper green spaces.

But no, we start at the beginning — we learn in our schools that the community comes first, and the private developer and everyone that wants to get involved comes second.

People, then profit.

Imagine our kids coming out of school with their tumbling ideas on building houses, with stunning green spaces and brilliantly designed halls of play and education, and all the skills to engineer a community to really live in?

Local council departments employing these sassy young designers and planners, to work with seasoned engineers and chippy foremen to build real communities.

Let those who have the money buy and build bigger houses for themselves — once they don’t block the ordinary person’s light, or their unspoiled landscape. 

I can just hear you say, I’d love to see you lobby your local government agency for all that …

But maybe we can start talking about it, with ourselves, with our kids, with our teachers, our public representatives.

Get the kids off Instagram for a while and involved meaningfully in the whole thing.

And feeling like part of a community.

Part of us.

You have to start somewhere, don’t you?

About endardoo

A newspaper sub-editor for many years, I am now a blogger and freelance sub-editor. Husband of one and house daddy of two: a feisty and dramatic 17-year-old girl and a bright, resilient football nut of a boy aged 16. My website:

3 comments on “Throwing Up Houses When They Should Be Building Homes

  1. You see this makes sense therefore it will never happen. 🤣😎🙃

    Liked by 1 person

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