August 19th Bulletin: State Lands and Funds to be Gifted to Developers
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
In fact, remember, that’s what we did during the Celtic Tiger and it led to an enormous crash in the economy. It wasn’t that there was a lack of supply in 2008, we had record supply, but nobody could afford the supply. People borrowed to an extent that they couldn’t afford and the entire House of Cards collapsed.
Richard Boyd Barret, TD on the Moore St./O'Connell St. 'Dublin Central' proposal.
Government subsidy of property developers
August 14th 2021 - Half-a-billion euro is to be provided directly to developers by Government in a bid ‘to get them to overcome concerns about making housing schemes a commercial success.’ (Irish Independent). The move, never before attempted in the history of the State, will subside the construction industry directly.
€500m for developers to coax them back to building - Independent.ie
Land Bill (for Developers)
An act to enable the Government to establish a state agency to privatise State lands and cede them to developers, namely, the Land Development Agency Act 2021 was passed by the Dail (30th June) and Senate (15th July). The bill was enacted and signed into law by President Higgins on July 21st last.
'Dublin Central' (June 1st Application):
The June Dublin Central proposal, involves the demolition of several key pieces of 18th Century buildings in O'Connell street and Parnell St.
'Dublin Central' plans include O'Connell St Metrolink (rte.ie), (which will most likely never be built). This planning application, was formally endorsed by the Taoiseach.
The applicant decided to scrap the existing 2010 planning permission for a €1.25 billion enclosed shopping complex on the site from O’Connell Street to Moore Street, and from Henry Street to Parnell Street. developing a new east-west pedestrian street between O’Connell Street and Moore Street, two new squares, shops, offices, apartments, hotels and an underground station for the proposed Metrolink rail line. (Already greatly delayed and highly unlikely to be built, like the previous Metro schemes.)
In 2008, when the original Chartered Land scheme was launched (just before the global property collapse), the so-called 'Dublin Central' scheme, included the Carlton Cinema site and several buildings on O'Connell St, hoped “to become an Irish Bond Street and home to fashion icons such as Prada, Armani, Tommy Hilfiger and high-end jewellers. It will also see the first apartments in 250 years being built on O'Connell Street.” (Irish Independent, 2008).
Another street, would link Henry Street to O'Connell Street 'and be host to high-street retailers such as Zara and Mango; while the other will link O'Connell Street to Moore Street.'
In 2015, UK property group Hammerson announced that it planned to buy Project Jewel, (including the Dublin Central site), from Nama for about €1.85 billion. Hammerson received the properties, as part of the Dublin Central lands, in July 2016.
Galway Harbour Land Redevelopment
In relation to turning state lands to better use, an application to expand Galway Port into the harbour is being considered by the Minister for Housing with the cost a projected €126 million. It would involve the reclamation of 27 hectares from the seabed, with extensive tax-payer funded property development on the vacated port lands.
An Bord Pleanala said that certain elements of this proposal would have a "significant adverse impact" on the integrity of Galway Bay, which just happens to be a special area of conservation (SAC), but there are higher considerations, such as providing free land for property development. The plan has been referred to Europe for approval, under a rarely used derogation of the Habitats Directive. Under Article 6(4) of that legislation, submissions can be made if a project is necessary for 'Imperative Reasons of Overriding Public Interest’ (IROPI).
• In this regard, there is an interesting post in a Galway blog dated 2011, stating that this (IROPI clause) was being used on a constant basis to push through measures such as rezoning in Galway for instance in the application for the proposed Galway City to Connemara road (replacing the R336 coast road). This proposed road (it is still planned) would pass through a Special Area of Conservation (SAC) and through areas of the Gaelthacht where formal planning restrictions are in place.
• At the time, a local Councillor welcomed the development, noting that the positioning of the new road would possibly free up lands for one off housing.
• The Galway port issue has been referred to the Minister for Housing by An Bord Pleanála. Galway Harbour Company announced plans for a redevelopment of part of the existing port, that is, for property redevelopment. The company said the plans are largely contingent on approval for the aforementioned extension to Galway port and harbour.
• There are now 885,189 people on Irish hospital (NTPF) waiting lists, with 21,420 patients waiting longer than one year for essential hospital treatment; there is an associated crisis in unscheduled care returns with highest number of patients treated on trolleys since start of pandemic, thus causing further cancellations of scheduled care.
Last June, the Irish hospital consultants association (IHCA) stated that Ireland needed a minimum of 6,000 acute beds to be included in the National Development Plan immediately with expansion of public hospital capacity, including additional Consultants.
The answer of the Government to this crisis of capacity in the health service is to give 500 million euro to developers and prepare to gift state lands to developers, lands which are of obvious necessity for the development of the health services.