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O'Devaney Gardening: Sowing The Seeds Of Regeneration In An Inner City Community

category dublin | housing | feature author Tuesday September 20, 2005 17:05author by kevin - imc éire Report this post to the editors

Lena Jordan talks about the upcoming plans to redevelop O'Devaney Gardens in Dublin 7

O'Devaney Gardens redevelopment is only beginning. The tenants of the local authority complex are trying to organise themselves, so they can demand what their community needs effectively when the tender is given to a developer.

O'Devaney Gardens (ODG) is a local authority housing estate comprised of just under 300 flats, located at the end of the North Circular Road in the west of the inner city. It is a 16-acre site adjacent to the Phoenix Park, close to the Red LUAS line, Heuston Station and within walking distance of the city centre, the 'new' Smithfield and the courts district. At present Dublin City Council (DCC) have put out a tender for redeveloping the entire site. Three private developers are in the running for the awarding of the tender. The plan for development has not been finalised yet, and the tenants of ODG are unsure of what the final outcome of the transformation of their home will look like.

I met up with Lena Jordan, who is a community worker in ODG, and who is also involved with Tenants First, a citywide grassroots organisation of tenants from local authority flat complexes facing redevelopment or regeneration. We talked in the community flat in one of the blocks. While looking around before our conversation, I could see the depressingly familiar site of boarded-up units dotted around the complex. Approximately 10% of the housing stock is currently unoccupied, despite a waiting list for people to be housed. There have been no new allocations since the site was earmarked for redevelopment four years ago; a de-tenanting process which has been mirrored in other cases such as St. Michael's Estate and Dolphin House in the south inner city.

Lena is a long-term tenant/resident of ODG, and we began by talking about the current social problems facing the people living there. "A few years ago people set up Block Committees to deal with anti social behaviour behaviour. These Committees are currently liaising with DCC and the residents in the regeneration project. The Committees carried out a survey among the residents, finding out what people felt and needed when it came to housing. 43% of the people surveyed said that if they were offered somewhere else, they would take it. We were surprised at the high level of people who wanted out. People were unsure about the future here. They see antisocial behaviour around the estate, and they're not sure a change in housing will address these issues. People are definitely worried. They want what's best for their homes, but they are on the mercy of the developer.

"I grew up in ODG. It was a fabulous place ot be growing up in with a very tight community. Housing estates were then built nearby about twenty years ago - Dunard, Drumalee and Montpelier. A huge amount of tenants left, they had the points on the housing list so they all took houses. There was a change in ODG after this. One or two blocks turned into what I would call transition blocks. There was nobody putting down roots in them and you couldnt build a community spirit that had previously always been there in ODG. This makes things very difficult for long term tenants. I think many long term tenants, if given the option of a house, would take it. I've been on a transfer list for 15 years and if I got the offer I would go too."

The plans for regeneration have not been finalised yet, but already there are worrying signs of DCC not involving the community in the plans for the site. The ODG Community Forum, a group which had been trying to secure greater resources such as a creche, swimming pool and community centre, found out about the regeneration plans by accident. An architect appointed by DCC showed up at a meeting, where the Forum had been expecting to work out a design for a new community centre. Instead the architect showed them plans for a complete redevelopment of the estate. At this point they realised something was very wrong, and had to quickly begin a process of greater consultation and communication with people, to let them know a redevelopment was imminent.

Lena explains: "That plan, which has since vanished, was to erect six new blocks and knock down four existing ones. Four of the new blocks were to be private apartments. ODG wasnt ready for this sort of thing at all in regards of community structures. There wasnt really any proper tenants associations, none of that. There was a group, the CDP - Community Development Project - that had come together to deal with the anti social behaviour around the area. There was just one development worker dealing with the residents who had been trying to address the problems of drinking, stolen cars, etc. The main problem we have here is that we're not highly organised. People need to be able to make an informed decision about what the right choices are for them. That would be a huge issue for me - that we can decide for ourselves as tenants of the council, living and raising childen here, that we have the option of deciding whether we can go for this redevelopement, or reject it."

John Bissett from St. Michael's Estate gave a workshop last year about power relations and the spectacle/simulacra of community involvement in regeneration projects when it comes to local authority housing estates. In many cases, because the tenants in council housing are poor, and politically detached and disenfranchised, the authorities can act with relative impunity and ease when it comes to implementing their own wishes above that of the local community. I asked Lena about this, and if people in ODG cared about what was happening.

"There is a lot of apathy here. Definitely. It impacts in that people dont put down roots or care about ODG,. It makes life very difficult for those that do want to stay. It brings the whole community down. Its a ripple effect, it goes through the smallest kid right up to the senior citizens. A lot of people dont think this redevelopment is going to happen. I dont think they will believe it until the bulldozers come in. There's been so many promises made in the past around this estate, for example with the community centre we've been fighting for for over 6 years which didnt happen. St Michael's Estate would have been one of the first places to have been marked for redevelopment, and that has been left to rot. The people that are left there, what they have to live in is appalling. Their needs are not being addressed. Promises made to them at the beginning were continuously broken. They were promised so much and then had the rug pulled from under their feet. Its a concern that we would have, that the same could happen here in ODG."

In response to the possibility of a large part of the site being given over to high density private apartments, the Block Committees came up with a community charter for ODG. At present there is an agreement between DCC and the ODG Block Committees that the current level of public housing units will be maintained. Another request of the community was that they remain city council tenants. Lena says that if the tenants get what is agreed in the charter, "we will be doing well. If they renege on what's in that charter, it will be very worrying because the idea of it was that there would be a high level of integration between the affordable and social housing units. At the moment DCC are deciding what developer is going to be awarded the tender. We don't know yet what way the property is going to be divvied up. What we are afraid of is that we will be forced into one little small corner of the land, and the private housing would occupy the majority of the rest of the area. If we're talking about regeneration, in relation to the social problems that currently exist, we need a social agenda as well as redevelopment. A partially gated community would be disastrous."

The tenants in ODG should know by October what way the land will be divided up between public and private housing. Lena says they will have to review this when it materialised and formulate a response. "When a regeneration board is set up, hopefully we will be able to learn from the mistakes and experiences of other housing estates around the city. As I said earlier we really are on the mercy of the developer. As it is, our community charter is only a piece of paper, and we'll have to try to get them to follow through on the commitments. We will be monitoring it. We really dont know how its going to work out yet."

Housing units boarded up - as usual - despite waiting list.
Housing units boarded up - as usual - despite waiting list.

Concrete football pitch in the middle of the estate.
Concrete football pitch in the middle of the estate.

Redbrick blocks.
Redbrick blocks.

dcfn0000_1.jpg

author by renterpublication date Wed Sep 21, 2005 20:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Sorry but I dont see what the problem is here. The people are getting new homes built for them, for FREE remember, and they're talking about social problems that come with living in O'Devaney Gardens, but yet they're giving out about possibly having some of the land privatised during a redevelopment? Do they want all the space for themselves, is that it? There is greater pressure on the city centre to build developments with higher density - fact. People need to live places. The tenants in O'Devaney Gardens should be happy with whatever they're given, most of us have to pay much higher rent or mortgages then council flat occupants.

author by Aodhan Perry - Cabra Community Councilpublication date Wed Sep 21, 2005 20:18author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The current plans by Dcc to revamp ODG are nothing more than a sham. The actual plan is to sell off this prime development site to the highest bidder while fobbing off real community concerns with idle promises of greater housing.
The difficulties which many residents of Ballymun have faced in getting a fair deal will also feature in ODG.
For too many years, the decent working class people of ODG were ignored and abandoned. Now that the land upon which they reside has become commercially valuable, Dcc begins to plot their removal.
Many residents are being promises new housing within the proposed redeveloped site, but with a private development consortium behind this so called regeneration, many of these people will be dissapointed.
Dcc have constantly refused to co-operate with residents groups throughout this city in a fair and transparent way to ensure we all benefit from any proposed developments.
I wish the residents of ODG every success in their attempts to achieve a level of equality and openess. They should stick together and not be divided by worthless promises of disneyland proportions.

author by local tenentpublication date Wed Sep 21, 2005 20:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

renter, go back down the country if you're having trouble with rent prices. The people in these flats should not have to move just to accomodate an influx of "renters".

author by Shipseapublication date Wed Sep 21, 2005 20:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

What (reliable) figures are there to support the drive for all the building around Dublin? How many vacant properties are there? How much of this development is actually about giving taxpayers money to developers for their profit making objectives? The article above doesnt say this but it sounds as if the proximity of O Devaney Gardens to other attractive Dublin locations and facilities has brought it to the attentions of the private money makers. Is it the case that the council tennants are being deliberately neglected and thereby forced out over time? Get out and get angry.

author by kevin - imc éirepublication date Thu Sep 22, 2005 09:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I dont like getting involved in comment responses, they're like a bad drug... you know if you start doing it regularly, you'll get hooked and keep coming back for more at all hours of the day... nevertheless 'renter' has said something that people usually articulate (from outside the left ghetto) when I'm talking to them about council flat complexes being redeveloped. I've been thinking about it for a while (someone else said the same thing after the St. Michael's Estate article too, if I recall correctly) so I have an article in my head which hopefully should see light soon, which addresses power relations, redevelopment, and why the council should afford these communities a lot more say in what way their homes get rebuilt.

author by Paul Baynespublication date Thu Sep 22, 2005 13:00author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Great article Kevin – looking forward to the follow up.

In response to Renter, I am also a renter, and I suppose the fact that we pay high rents is because rental housing is built for profit, rather than being built in order to house people. There is pressure on the city centre to build developments with higher density, but those who are providing these developments have a profit motive for doing so. Housing is not built to supply a need for housing, it is built to create profit for property owners and the construction industry.

Of course it is legitimate for people to make some profit, but surely the government should make an effort to ensure the focus is on providing housing for people rather than supporting vested interests.

author by Reality Checkpublication date Thu Sep 22, 2005 13:13author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I love the way you keeping talking about this mythical "anti-social behaviour" as if it's some pervading force wafting in from the Phoenix Park or Stoneybatter.
The anti-social activity, "drinking, stolen cars" etc in the area and forced on to local residents of private houses all emanates from O'DG.
The sooner they knock this kip the better.
This land is too valuable to be wasted on people who have no respect for their surrounds.
The decent people in O'DG should be rehoused in the new development and who cares what happens the others.

author by renter #2publication date Thu Sep 22, 2005 19:15author address author phone Report this post to the editors

Renter has a point. I admit that moving the residents can be distressfull and will break up established communities. On the other hand, with the anti-social behaviour that exists there is it worth making a fresh start?

They are being given new free housing (from tax payers), being charged nominal rents (subsidised by tax payers), large numbers of the residents exist on small benefits (transfered from tax payers).

When you've spent your week working, payed your rent and your bills, then have no money left over to socialize, its easy to take a dim view of O'Devaney Gardens situation...

author by ondeground - flatlinerspublication date Fri Sep 23, 2005 00:55author address author phone Report this post to the editors

The idea that bad elements just happen to live together is absurd. Yes, ODG has a high proportion of anti-social behaviour. It also has a high proportion of deprivation. Even poor ignorant "renter" must be able to see a link.
And what of those who reared decent honourable families in ODG while the authorities ignored them. Are they now to be relocated/rehoused just because their land in now valuable whereas their lives are not.
As for the ignorant idea that all these people are freeloaders well I suggest you check out the great tax avoidance deals for Landlords in this town,( of which 72% have failed to register).
Finally, when local residents in many estates tried to banish the drug dealing scum from their lives they were labelled vigilanties. And by whom?. The very people who abandoned them like the cops, the corpo, the poverty industry parasites etc.

author by John Mcdermott - www.soldiersofdestiny.orgpublication date Mon Oct 03, 2005 01:19author address Gran canaria spainauthor phone Report this post to the editors

Hear hear.

author by Flash - SASPODpublication date Wed Mar 29, 2006 16:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

With everything you hear about O'Devaney it's not hard to dismiss the place and the people in it. people claim that the people who live here are free loaders or parasites. but there wrong. fine there are people on the dole. but there are people across the city on the dole. what you conveniently miss is the fact that there are certain people in the flats who are workinhg 2 jobs just to keep a roof over there heads or the fact that there are people who are being pushed into 2 bedroom flats who have 5 or 6 children. these people aren't noticed because of "anti-social behaviour". this is the buzz word of our time but it is used for things so incidental that they would not be noticed if there where competant people running this area. fine there are bad eggs but there are alot more good ones that need to be listened to more and not just wrote of because of where they live.

author by former ODG residentpublication date Wed Dec 06, 2006 15:59author address author phone Report this post to the editors

O Devaney was a great place to grow up however over the years it has gone into serious decline. It should be demolished as soon as possible and replaced with housing that is up to a high standard. no more cost cutting by the government, the good residents of o devaney do not deserve it

author by resident of ODGpublication date Thu Oct 25, 2007 17:12author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I have lived in ODG all my life as has my mother. In response to the fact that all residents are using tax payers money my entire family have full time jobs and pay our own way. The antisocial behaviour isn't solely from the residents of ODG. Where not to blame for all crime. Myself and my family have never been in trouble. There's a huge stigma about people from flats i've lived with that my entire life. It's not where your from its how your brought up.

author by o.3.t.5 - o.dpublication date Thu Feb 28, 2008 17:03author address author phone Report this post to the editors

make sure der are facilities for the youth before we do anything please

author by tonyfr35publication date Sun Nov 30, 2008 17:10author email anthonyedenfr35 at yahoo dot frauthor address author phone Report this post to the editors

hi

i lived here for some time while i was young. my mum was irish using the name or names::

margaret mary flynn
margaret mary eden (married name, my unknown stepdad)
rita flynn
rita eden ( known as now!) born 1945

family known to area maybe? TRAVERS

ilene travers or flynn
thomas travers

me im anthony eden (adopted name)
birth name anthony flynn 1965

i used play out and was known as TONY TRAVERS.

help did you know me, any information, however small it is would be great.

my email address is ;; anthonyedenfr35@yahoo.fr

as my mum wont tell me anything, not even who my dad is. ( told a greek man from London)

author by english ex odgpublication date Fri Feb 27, 2009 02:14author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i lived and worked on odg for about 2 years around 2001-2003. the community spirit was probably the best i have seen anywhere. the theft and the vandalism and the drug taking where probably the worst i have seen anywhere, it's pointless building private houses on or next to an estate where there are people who have absolutely no respect for other people's hard earned property. the decent residents should unite with the the police and get rid of the scum who spoil a great place..

author by sharon byrnepublication date Sun Oct 04, 2009 21:06author address author phone Report this post to the editors

i grew up in odg and feel very angry about some of the comments made about the people who live there all my family worked .i was brought up by my grandparents in odg when i applied fof jobs with an odg address, i allways got a knock back but got an interview with my mothers castleknock address. i grew up been peanilised becaused of where i came from some of the most descent people ive been lucky enought to know have come from odg .its very sad that people who know nothing about living there have got such big opinions i went to stanhope street covent 99% of girls from odg were in a special class {no recognised exams} ,i was a lucky one used my mothers address .please dont judge people when you dont know what your talking about.

author by Electric Bridgetpublication date Mon Oct 19, 2009 10:24author address author phone Report this post to the editors

I travelled up to Dublin and had the privilege of being at the UN day of poverty on the Docks in Dublin this weekend. There, I heard the words of a young father called Glen. That man taught me more in five minutes than I had ever learnt before about what it means to be poor and forgotten. I have no words to explain how ashamed I feel that I did not get involved before now. Like everyone else I got caught up in the greed of the Celtic Tiger. I lay awake in bed wondering how I would get the money together for a deposit for a house. I had a good job and an above average wage and I still worried about how I would make the next step.

How ignorant was I?

For Glen and his neighbours the struggle is a million fold and they have no control over their destinies as the State has lied to them time and time again. To those of you who can't see that I pity you. A lot of these families are not getting "Free Housing." They are asked to move from their homes on the promise of free housing and in the mean time they await in substandard flats with crumbling walls and families to feed. Many moved from the frying pan to the fire.

I would like to thank Glen for his bravery. People look for modern day heroes in the halls of Dail Eireann. They look for inspiration and leadership among the rich. It is people like Glen who inspire and people like Glen who change the public perception.

He spoke in the shadow of the IFSC and at the moment we are all leaving in the shadow of the IFSC and the bad decisions made in those walls. Our grandchildren will pay for those mistakes through TAX.

Where was the Celtic Tiger for the poor? Where was it for those living in St Micheal's? Where is their NAMA?

Long may these voices be heard and may they ring in the ears of those politicians who have the cheek to try and silence them. Never lose hope and never despair because collectively you have the power to make this happen.

author by Anthony Price - his own publication date Sun Feb 21, 2010 19:21author address author phone Report this post to the editors

A Story about antisocial behaviour in the suburbs of Clondalkin
See www.saintjohnspark.webs.com

Related Link: http://www.saintjohnspark.webs.com
author by http://artspacegalway.com/artist/teresa-ward/ - art spacepublication date Wed Jun 03, 2015 19:28author address author phone Report this post to the editors

If anyone has any photos of Devany Gardens, old or new, could you please post them to wardteresa@rocketmail.com. It's for an art project. It would be very gratefully appreciated. Thank you!

Related Link: http://artspacegalway.com/artist/teresa-ward/
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