The BBC condemms Adamstown to the ranks of Priory Hall for no other reason than lazy journalism.

Recently BBC Radio4 broadcast a programme called “Irish recession: Inside an ’empty’ town”

I have lived very happily in this “empty town” of Adamstown as the BBC described it for more than 3 years. I can only say it’s not the Adamstown that I know. Arriving in any “out of town estate” at 10am as the reporter did you will mostly likely find them empty. The kids are in school and parents have gone to work. Arriving between 8am and 9.30 am you would see a much different Adamstown, or likewise following school closure.

Its true to say only 10% of the entire project is built (1,200 homes) but they are all are occupied. What this reporter and many others fail to grasp is the sheer scale of the project, even without the crash it was a 10 years+ project and when completed Adamstown would have be larger than Tralee with a population of about 25,000. Now that the entire country has crashed it will take longer to complete, but importantly from the residents already living here, it was planned properly. The housing in Adamstown came with many facilities that many other estates around Dublin can only dream about. Of course like most who bought at that time during the Celtic Tiger,the owners of these homes in Adamstown are in negative equity and will remain so for possible many years, and that remains a sober point for most. The up side is that Adamstown though only 10% complete it can claim the following:

  • The design and layout of Adamstown is probably one of the best you will find in the country, and has won many international awards for it architecture and layout.
  • Apartments are better laid out than most and slightly larger than you will find in most estates.
  • There are now 2 primary schools here with all the proper facilities for a school
  • A secondary that can cater for 1,000 pupils even though there are only 12,000 units built at this stage
  • A good crèche which can cater for over 100 children.
  • 3 convenience stores
  • A fully laid out park and playground area.
  • Sports pitches, sporting organisations which cover GAA, soccer, cycling and cricket.
  • A dedicated bus service which commences it journey to the city from Adamstown
  • A train station with hourly services to Hueston Station only 18 minutes away running every hour Monday to Saturday. Both morning and evening you will find it busy with commuters. Hopefully in the near future it will also be possible to take an intercity journey from Adamstown station.
  • Housing developed around mature trees that existed on the land and supplemented with thousands of mature planting and shrubs along the streets.
  • Wider streets with cycle paths, provides a safe environment for children
  • My apartment overlooks a large green area where many children play after school and at the weekends.
  • Situated beside the grounds of Finnstown House with walking access into the hotel and leisure facilities.
  • Good road access to the city and to the M4 and M7 from Adamstown
  • The PE halls of the primary schools facilitate after hours activities for karate, palates and other such activities
  • And yes it is very quiet and peaceful to live here and long may that continue.

It is correct to say there is hoarding where the development has stopped, however what has been development in Adamstown is completed to a standard that many in other estates could only dream of. Most importantly when the recession finally fades, Adamstown is probably better placed to attract potential buyers because it has a superior level of social infrastructure in place than most, and due to the nature of the phasing other infrastructure such as community centres and the swimming pool which was missed in the BBC programme. These will be built because they linked to the overall phasing of the development as part of conditions set out by An Bord Pleanála.

I am happy to be a resident in the Adamstown development and do not consider it a ghost estate. The BBC programme almost viewed it as a negative aspect, the fact that Adamstown has infrastructure in place ahead or at least in tandem with the delivery of housing. The BBC and others should take a little longer to do your research in future to present the benefits Adamstown has, instead of condemning Adamstown to the ranks of Priory Hall for no other reason than lazy journalism.

I wish to point out that I do not work or have any links to the developer or estate agents for Adamstown, just a contented resident.

UPDATE: October 2013 click on the link to this recent planning application which is a negative development for residents.

I would love to hear the views of other residents, and if you did find the information in this blog post hit the like button at the end of the page please.

(c) Tom Dowling 2012 image by Tom Dowling

Irish recession: Inside an ’empty’ town

By Petroc Trelawny – Broadcast on Saturday on BBC Radio 4

One of the legacies of Ireland’s boom years was the proliferation of new housing stock, much of it now sitting empty. Adamstown near Dublin symbolises the ambition, and subsequent puncturing, of the Irish economic dream.

It is just before 10:00 on a weekday morning but I am the only passenger to get off the train. The gleaming new railway station has five platforms, even though for most of the day there is only an hourly service.

The automatic ticket gates are wide open – as I pass, a lone attendant nods from the depths of his kiosk.

At the bottom of the steps is a plaque cast in metal with golden lettering.

“Adamstown Station – officially opened on 16th April 2007 by An Taoseach Bertie Ahern.”

April 2007 – one of the last optimistic months. A time when hope was still in the air, just before the so called “Celtic Tiger” economy got sick, and then fell fatally ill.

Adamstown epitomises the ambitions of those years of growth that started in the mid 1990s. Dublin was getting rich quick.

Multinational companies were recruiting, new businesses opening, served by economic migrants from Eastern Europe and returning Irish hoping to claim their piece of the Celtic dream.

The city needed new homes for its burgeoning population, and so in 1998 plans were laid for a grand new town. Ten thousand dwellings to start, 25,000 citizens.

The location chosen could hardly have been better, a green field site alongside a mainline railway, less than 15 minutes from Dublin and near the trunk road which links the capital with the country’s north-west.

In 2006, at the height of Ireland’s housing boom, the first properties went on sale.

In scenes that seemed common at the time, potential purchasers queued around the clock – 330 houses sold in the first two days alone, more than half to first-time buyers.

“Adamstown – it’s a whole new ball game”, proclaims the slogan on the glossy brochure I am handed by the immaculately groomed estate agent minding the show house.

“How’s business?” I ask. “Slow,” she admits. Today’s price list has four-bedroom townhouses starting at €215,000 (£175,000). A similar property would have cost €500,000 (£405,000) before the collapse.

Outside the window, a security man watches me from his van, parked by the wooden hoardings surrounding the spot where the next phase of houses will be built.

“When will work start?” I continue. My friend does not seem sure at first, then her estate agent’s bright confidence clicks in. “In the next few weeks I hope,” she nods. “What’s it like to live here?” “Quiet,” she says. “Very quiet.”

Currently just over 1,200 homes are occupied. Families with school-age children are well provided for.

There are two primary schools and a secondary level college. The rooms of the Giraffe creche are packed with younger children, but they are one of the few signs of life I see as I walk the town’s streets.

It’s as if a pause button has been pressed – the place waits in an extended holding pattern”

Other than a postman, a pair of council workers mending a pavement and a solitary jogger, the place seems empty.

The silence is only broken by announcements from the station tannoy, blown across town on the breeze, telling non-existent passengers to step back from the platform edge as a fast train is approaching.

The place has the feel of an American suburb, rather than a bustling Irish town.

The first people who chose to live here were assured that their pioneering spirit would be rewarded.

There would be nearly 50 shops, nine restaurants and two public houses. To date a single convenience store, a hairdresser and a pizzeria are the only community facilities.

Four parks would provide residents with a green oasis – there were mock-ups of a grand library on a square with open air cafes, promises of an eight-screen cinema.

On a hoarding in front of one abandoned building site, five children in swimming goggles gaze out from a poster.

The fact there is no pool is covered in sober language in the Adamstown Annual report: “Planning permission was granted for a sports and leisure building in 2008. Construction of these facilities has not commenced to date.”

And yet there is a sense of community here. There may not be a church, but there is a Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) club. There are walking and cycling groups.

The proliferation of South Asian names in the line up of the Adamstown Cricket Club, and the provision of English lessons in one of the schools, reflect an increasingly multicultural Ireland.

Even though they represent little more than 10% of what was planned, the houses that have been built are pleasing, confident buildings, modern in style, but also nodding to Dublin’s Georgian architectural heritage.

New towns across the world from Chandigarh in India, to Tsuen Wan in Hong Kong, to England’s Milton Keynes, have all taken time to find an identity, to become loved by their citizens.

As I walk back to the station, past hopeful posters and empty cycle racks, I contemplate what the years ahead hold for Adamstown.

Like many aspects of Irish life at present, it is as if a pause button has been pressed. The place waits in an extended holding pattern, but the future is not completely without hope.

By Petroc Trelawny – Broadcast on Saturday on BBC Radio 4

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