LUASing your mind over property prices in Dublin?

Derelict buildings everywhere, yet nowhere to live... A photo essay and commentary on derelict buildings in Dublin 7 near the LUAS line. A photo essay and commentary on derelict buildings in Dublin 7 near the LUAS line. As anyone who has faced the daily banal work torture of the water-cooler/canteen "chat" will know, the two hot topics that people love talking endless guff about are the traffic chaos in Dublin, and how much it costs to buy/rent a house here. But admittedly for once the chattering classes do have a point - in many areas which would previously have been considered accessible for low-income earners to live in, they are now priced out entirely. In other European cities where a new rail line is completed, and even in Dublin with the construction of the DART, property values usually go up and it becomes desirable to live close to the line for convenience and hassle-free commuting.... The Government's big new shiny toy, the LUAS Tram System, (overdue and over budget, but never mind) kicked off in June with the opening of the old Harcourt Street line, stretching out to Sandyford on Dublin's southside. The second line, which reaches out to Tallaght, has not opened yet, but extensive testing is currently taking place. This track goes westwards down Abbey Street through a very old part of the city, along Benburb St towards Smithfield, Blackhall Place and Stoneybatter. This is a part of the city where "urban regeneration" is transforming the streetscapes - and the skyline, visible most prominently in Smithfield Square with the absolutely ludicrous granting of planning permission to a fourteen storey tower. This is part of another large development of high-end apartments. House prices in places like nearby Manor Street and the artisans 2-storeys around Oxmantown Road have skyrocketed with the arrival of these developments. And yet... a trip down the LUAS line, and a stroll around some of the stations reveals huge amounts of derelict sites and buildings. Property owners happily allow buildings to remain vacant and fall into disrepair, so when they apply for planning permission, it will be easier - and much cheaper - for them to knock down an existing building. By sitting on their laurels, they force up the price of living, all the while people find it more difficult to live in the communities they grew up in. The six redbrick houses near the junction of Blackhall Place & Benburb St (photographed below) were only bricked up recently - these were fine homes with no major structural faults. Even Dublin City Council is contributing to the dereliction in the area with several of the ground floor units in their old complex at Ellis Court boarded up - and this happening in the middle of a housing crisis. Ellis Court is a beautiful old Corporation building, one of the few remaining in the area, and it is a shame to see it being left go to ruin in this way. Three storey houses divided into flats, smaller two-storey homes, old cottages, single unit flats, enormous warehouses (with yards and offices), offices, a butchers, various older shops and stores - all lie empty, decaying, and sprouting weeds in the inner Dublin 7 area. The City Council has the power to seize these properties and do a compulsory purchase order on them, or fine the owners 3% annually of the market value under the Derelict Sites Act, but this power is exercised on only a handful of properties throughout the entire city centre. The Garda also do not bother pursuing the owners of derelict properties. They are primarily concerned with people who try to squat empty buildings for legitimate purposes rather than the criminals who allow the buildings to dilapidate. A report in yesterdays Sunday Independent shows how alert the Garda still are to potential squatters, after frenzied reports in the tabloids in the run up to Mayday about dangerous anarchists occupying abandoned buildings. A young teenage girl innocently went "exploring" a derelict building in the upmarket Dublin 4 district with a friend, and no fewer than 12 Gardai showed up in a matter of minutes to apprehend the trespassers. How soon does it take the Garda to come around if you report a potential burglar? There is obviously political pressure on the Garda to ensure that the private property of speculators is respected, even when they have total disregard for the need for housing and spaces in the city centre & suburbs. http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/aug2004/dsci0001.jpg http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/aug2004/dsci0002.jpg http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/aug2004/dsci0004.jpg http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/aug2004/dsci0005.jpg http://www.indymedia.ie/attachments/aug2004/dsci0006.jpg

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