Concerns over the redevelopment of three Traveller housing sites in south Dublin

Amy Blaney

Three Traveller accommodation sites in south Dublin will undergo a major redevelopment to provide modern, high-quality and energy efficient homes.

Traveller accommodation at Owendoher Haven in Ballyboden, Oldcaste Park in Clondalkin, and Kishogue Park in Lucan, will all undergo redevelopment to construct new “group” homes to meet medical and older person needs.

The three sites will also include new play spaces and community facilities.

Extensive consultation is currently under way with residents and local Traveller groups to finalise design plans. However, residents beside the Oldcaste Park site have raised issues with a proposed pedestrian access route into the housing estate next door.

Owendoher Haven and Kishogue were both developed in the early 2000s, while Oldcastle Park was a temporary site which has been in existence since the 1990s.

All three sites are “long overdue for development and upgrade”, said Colm Ward, director of housing with South Dublin County Council.

Specific individual issues have been raised in each site, such as drainage problems in Owendoher Haven, and road safety issues in Kishogue.

However, in Oldcastle park, there is an ongoing issue with a proposed opening between the Traveller site and the Castlegrange housing estate next door to allow pedestrian access.

Local residents in Castlegrange are requesting that no vehicular or pedestrian access be permitted between the Traveller site and the housing estate.

Councillors were told that although local residents are “supportive” of redeveloping the Traveller site, “they do not want any access into the estate”, said cllr Trevor Gilligan.

“They are worried it will become a rat-run, because you will be able to go from the other ringroad to the Nangor Road. They believe it would make the estate a main street,” he said.

Oldcastle Park is largely vacant and there have been issues with dumping and burning of illegal waste within the site.

However, concerns were raised by several councillors that effectively “building a wall” around the site is not a suitable proposal.

Cllr Louise Dunne said she had visited the sites last year and some of the conditions were “absolutely appalling”.

“It’s shocking in this day and age that we are still tarnishing and stigmatising a group of people who are living in appalling conditions and we want to keep a wall up to further segregate them from our community.

“Build a path, build a road and let the Travelling community be a part of the community,” cllr Dunne added.

The proposal for the site includes replacing the 50-bay temporary site with 18 group houses and bays with a day unit in three clusters.

Meanwhile, in Owendoher Haven, a design proposal has already been agreed to replace eight existing bays and a caretaker’s house with nine two-storey group homes.

“The families very clearly want to upgrade to two-storey group homes in most cases here,” said Mr Ward. There will also be an adjacent play space for children on the site.

In Kishogue Park, it is proposed to replace the existing 20 bays and houses with 15 group homes, with a number of residents opting to move to standardised social housing.

The residents in the three sites will be temporarily relocated by the local authority during the redevelopment. Work is expected to begin in early 2024.

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