With community morale at an all-time low, Fatima Groups United was established in 1995 as a representative body for the residents. FGU commissioned consultation and research to document the scale of the problems facing the community.
In launching this document entitled ‘Making Fatima a Better Place to Live’ in 1998, the President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, exhorted the community to take the lead in making real change happen.
The community took this message on board and in 2000 FGU produced its landmark visionary document ‘11 Acres 10 Steps’ which became a benchmark for policy and planning.
In response to this, Dublin City Council produced its masterplan policy document, ‘Regeneration Next Generation’, which was officially launched by An Taoiseach Bertie Ahern in Feburary 2001. The Fatima Regeneration Board was formally established in July 2001, with Finbarr Flood appointed as independent chairperson.
Following a comprehensive consultation process with the community, agreement in relation to an overall Masterplan was reached under the auspices of the Fatima Regeneration Board. Following this, planning permission was secured for Phase One of the project and the demolition of the first five of the fourteen blocks commenced in August 2003. Proposals for the use of a Public Private Partnership approach whereby a developer finances the regeneration process in return for title to part of the site were put forward by Dublin City Council at this time. Following careful consideration the Regeneration Board agreed to this approach on the basis that it would deliver the Masterplan or better.
The joint venture developer, Maplewood Elliott, was appointed in 2004 by Dublin City Council and Construction of the first 110 social housing units as part of Phase 1 commenced in August that year. The keys of the first of these units was officially handed over to a Fatima resident in October 2005 by the Lord Mayor, Councillor Catherine Byrne.
In parallel with the physical regeneration, the Regeneration Board published its Social Regeneration Plan, ‘8 Great Expecations’ which was launched by President McAleese in November 2005. This plan contained thirty-seven measures across eight broad themes aimed at supporting local families to achieve the maximum improvements in their quality of life and prospects arising from the regeneration process.
Planning permission for Phase Two was granted in March 2006 and construction started immediately following the demolition of the remaining blocks of the old complex. The developer completed the first of the 395 market rate units at the beginning of 2008 and the balance of social housing and community facilities came on stream between April and June 2009. The overall scheme will be completed by the end of 2009, with the exception of twenty-six market rate units, which will now be completed at a later date.
The transformation of the former flat complex into a modern and attractive mixed tenure scheme has been completed over a six year period. Former residents of the old complex are now living in clean, energy efficient dwellings with central heating and generous gardens and balcony spaces. Community projects, which for years had to make do in converted ground floor flats, can now provide their services in a purpose-built state-of-the-art Community Centre and Creche facility.
A wide range of creative and innovative programmes and initiatives have been rolled out in parallel with the physical regeneration programme which have served to lift the expectations and aspirations of young people and adults alike. An all-weather pitch has also been provided and residents have accesss to swim- ming and leisure facilities.