I thank the Acting Chairman and other members of the joint committee for this opportunity to discuss the general scheme of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (Dissolution) Bill 2014. I am a member of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority council and, with five others, I represent all the communities in the docklands area. I was born and reared in the docklands.
On behalf of the numerous community organisations, groups, residents' associations and the entire docklands area, which we represent, we wish to make the following statement. At present, the community liaison committee consists of six community people appointed by the Minister as members of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority council under section 16 of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority Act 1997.
Since its establishment in 1997, the DDDA has driven the social regeneration of the docklands community as a key part of its mission. The representatives of the docklands communities on the council have ensured that the opinions, needs and welfare of the local community were always kept top of the docklands authority's agenda and enshrined in DDDA policy. The communities are determined to have this agenda maintained in any new entity which will emerge. The communities are particularly concerned about heads 5 and 6 of the Bill. Head 5 may not exclude any role of other State agencies, but it excludes full participation by the docklands community by diluting the powers and influence of their representatives. Head 6 provides for the establishment of a committee which will be known as the docklands consultative forum, the powers of which will be limited to assisting Dublin City Council in discharging its function under head 5. That is all we know about it at this stage.
The success of the physical and social regeneration of the docklands thus far has been hailed worldwide as a successful and ingenious regeneration programme by many academic reviews. The DDDA Act 1997 provided for a general duty for the authority to secure the social and economic regeneration of the Dublin docklands area on a sustainable basis and to promote, particularly as regards persons residing in the area, the provision of education and training opportunities and the development of a wide range of employment. It required the authority to promote the development of existing and new residential communities in the area, including the development of a mix of housing for people of different social backgrounds. The above functions and ground-making policies are not provided for in the proposed legislation. Such policies are not specifically enshrined in the city development plan either. The draft Bill will not allow for the communities to influence the policies and strategies which contribute to the sustainability of the docklands.
The direct input of community representatives on the DDDA council over the past 16 years ensured that the community agenda was keep to the fore. This included the establishment of the social regeneration programme, which embraced the entire community with a customised range of programmes, including community development, social infrastructure, housing, employment and education. Consideration should be given to allowing a similar system to form part of any new entity. The proposals in the Bill would lead to marginalised communities in the docklands feeling further disenfranchised. As a consequence, the docklands may become a less than pleasant place to do business, invest and live.
Over a year ago, Dublin City Council requested the DDDA council to prepare a report setting out views on the issues that are still relevant from the 2008 DDDA master plan and other issues that are relevant to any other planning framework in the docklands. The DDDA council's overall recommendations included a standalone planning strategy to be devised and adopted for the entire Dublin docklands area irrespective of the individual planning mechanisms adopted for particular local areas within the overall docklands area; an integrated planning strategy to be employed throughout the area; social and community facilities, particularly education facilities, to be provided in advance of and in tandem with residential development; a formal mechanism to be devised to deliver community gain from private development in the area; a database to be maintained for the docklands area comprising statistical and other data for the area to allow effective monitoring of docklands social and economic indicators; and national funding to support the delivery of infrastructure and facilities, including community facilities, in the area. The council further recommended that provision for the continuing development and enhancement of existing areas and institutions which have been developed to date in the docklands be included in any future planning strategy.
A standalone planning strategy for the entire docklands area is considered necessary to ensure the docklands vision is achieved and the docklands legacy is continued. Such a strategy would provide a framework for other planning mechanisms such as the strategic development zone planning schemes and local area plans. The content of the planning strategy would reflect the 2008 docklands master plan. None of the above-mentioned recommendations appear to be transposed to the powers of the new entity.
Under head 17 of the Bill, the docklands master plan would cease to exist, as would the policies therein. This is of particular concern to the community representatives. The master plan encompassed a specific area north and south of the Liffey and its immediate hinterland. The boundaries were clearly defined and stretched to 520 ha. It was seen as an innovative space where all aspects of sustainable development were undertaken. Many pilot programmes were put in place on an experimental basis within the docklands. As Mr. Seanie Lambe has already pointed out, a requirement for 20% social housing was introduced in 1999, which led to the inclusion of Part V in the Planning and Development Act 2000. A local labour clause was first introduced in docklands. While that can be done in other areas, we cannot now have it in a future docklands plan. Many new community, educational, and training initiatives were undertaken in the area. The proposed docklands dissolution Bill does not allow for the continuation of any of these programmes. The existing boundaries of the docklands must be maintained along with the social regeneration policies and the community representatives so that the work undertaken to date can be continued, reviewed and quantified on a continuous basis.
The regeneration of Dublin's docklands was effective as a result of real participation and co-operation by the community representatives nominated to represent their communities on the council. Those of us who served on the council feel strongly that continuity will be the key to maintaining the momentum to consolidate the ongoing regeneration of the Dublin docklands neighbourhood. While it is acknowledged widely that the model of regeneration of the Dublin docklands was ground-breaking and many positive benefits have been achieved, there remain deep-seated structural problems within communities which need to be continually addressed. The ground-breaking model which framed the social regeneration of the docklands must be continued in any future entity. The proposed Bill does not allow for this. We ask the committee to consider this in their recommendations.
My opening statement has been made on behalf of the members of the DDDA council.