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Seven Mills: Building a new town

Seven Mills, May 2024.

The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus famously once said: ‘Big results require big ambition’. Cairn embarked on a new adventure that certainly required bundles of big ambition – the building of Seven Mills, a vibrant new town, located on the Grand Canal between Lucan and Clondalkin in Dublin 22.

Once completed, the development will contain over 8,700 homes, with 5,500 of these built by Cairn, making it their most ambitious project to date.

The town will be made up of a series of new communities and will include all the amenities you’d expect, from creches, schools, and healthcare facilities, to restaurants, shops, and leisure. Set amidst 225 acres of green space featuring dedicated biodiversity areas and parks, play areas, and green spaces, plus 3,500k of canal frontage, each thoughtfully designed, sustainably built home is no more than two minutes from a green space.

Seven Mills is a place for everybody, so will feature a variety of home types including houses, duplexes, and apartments, spread across the mixed tenure of private ownership, cost rental, and social and affordable housing. It will include parks and playgrounds and be pedestrian and cyclist friendly, with a cycleway direct to Dublin city along the Grand Canal Greenway. It will house community buildings as well as 300,000 ft2 of LEED registered commercial and 180,000 ft2 of prime retail space, which will ensure local people have new employment opportunities and residents will have spaces within which to work, eat, and unwind. There will be easy transport links for commuters, with two train stations onsite – Clondalkin Fonthill and Kishoge – providing direct lines to Heuston Station (12 minutes) and Pearse Station (34 minutes).

An ambitious plan

To put the scale of this new town and its population into context, it will be of a similar size to Naas or Ennis. However, while these towns developed over decades and centuries, the timeframe at Seven Mills is considerably shorter. In fact, building began in January 2023, with the first residents moving into their new homes before Christmas that same year – and the goal is to complete this new town by 2030.

The project is supported by approximately €200 million worth of urban regeneration development funding and is a significant development in terms of infrastructure for the wider area. Typically, 700 people can be seen on the ground working daily on all aspects of the project, and it is expected that between 750 and 1,000 homes a year will be delivered at peak. This represents a significant contribution to Ireland’s housing supply.

For Cairn to support this effort, it is crucial to implement a series of measures, including early investment in the design stage; central management of project controls; standardisation across design teams and supply chain; and proactive management of supply chain and resources by the business’s commercial function.

Ensuring this means the business can work with the supply chain to continuously add value and efficiencies.

Health and safety are key also, which is why a significant amount of time and resources is invested to keep everyone on site safe, while still ensuring that the required quality of build and design is delivered within the tight timeframes required.

Building a lasting community

Cairn understands deeply the importance of building not just homes but communities. This is evident in the way that Seven Mills has been designed as a green town, meaning it prioritises the preservation of the nature of the site as well as promoting the physical health and wellness of its community.

It is a sustainable, accessible, and versatile development with facilities designed to meet the educational, cultural, sporting, and environmental needs of the people who live there. It is a truly walkable town, designed to include access to all essential amenities and services within five minutes of every home. Sustainable travel is also at the heart of Seven Mills, with two train stations servicing the community, ensuring quick and easy access to the city centre.

Seven Mills, January 2023.

Built for Good

In 2023 Cairn launched its ‘Built for Good’ campaign which speaks to the role the business wants to play in Irish society and their commitment to leaving the wider communities in which they work in a better place than when they arrive.

As a greenfield site, Seven Mills provided an opportunity to build a town that brings the campaign message to life. By applying best practice aspirations for sustainability and biodiversity, the objective is to deliver a collection of Biodiversity Net Gain neighbourhoods where the biodiversity of the completed town will equal and exceed the pre-development conditions. To help achieve this ambition, the Seven Mills masterplan establishes a strong network of green corridors, parks, and green linkages that will provide new habitats and permeability for wildlife.

On a human level, Cairn is very much in tune with the needs of buyers and communities, consistently delivering the homes that are most needed and playing an important role at such a crucial time for housing in Ireland.

Its hard-earned reputation has been built on first class customer experience. That reputation and the trust from customers has led to the company being recognised as a partner of choice, working closely nationwide with many local authorities, various AHB’s and the Land Development Agency.

Recognising the positive role the state is playing in terms of Housing for All, and the real impact of the policy supports and initiatives to increase the supply of housing, Cairn is acutely aware of the need to deliver 50,000 new units per annum between now and 2030 and the challenge that presents. Their intent, as the population of Ireland continues to grow, is to supply high quality homes at scale and pace.

Seven Mills is an important step on this journey, and a testament to what is possible when government, policymakers, key stakeholders such as South Dublin County Council and private industry come together to increase the supply of homes and build sustainable communities.

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