Thursday, 23 October 2008

Future of Sean McDermott scheme uncertain

DUBLIN CITY Council is considering its options regarding the redevelopment of the 19th century Scots Presbyterian Church on Sean McDermott Street, Dublin 1.

Although developer Bernard McNamara's proposal for the historic site has just been granted planning permission by Dublin City Council, he pulled out of the project earlier this year and the future of the development is currently in limbo.

While the council is saying it may put the site back on the market when market conditions improve, a spokesperson says it doesn't know at this point whether it will be sold with the current planning permission attached.

The planning permission granted by Dublin City Council was to develop a four-storey office block using the Greek-style portico of the former Scots Presbyterian Church as a façade.

The protected structure, built circa 1830 to the design of a Scottish architect, has a four-columned Doric granite portico.

It was abandoned in the 20th century and later used as a store before being burned down in the 1980s leaving only the front.

The planning permission also allows for 179 apartments on former convent lands between Sean McDermott Street and Railway Street and Gloucester Lane.

The apartments would be arranged in five blocks up to nine storeys, one of which is the refurbished main convent building with 18 apartments.

A three to five-storey block would provide Dublin City Council with a civic centre/one-stop-shop.

The Sean McDermott Street contract was one of five awarded to Mr McNamara as part of a public private partnership (PPP) deal.

Three were to redevelop three local authority flat complexes and two were for inner city regeneration projects - one of which was the development at Sean McDermott Street.

Mr McNamara subsequently pulled out of the deals saying he couldn't get planning permission for the number of units he wanted, following a change in regulations on apartment size.

A mediation agreement is believed to stipulate that McNamara relinquished any claims to the land and pay the council €1.5 million in compensation. It is understood that the council agreed not to take legal action against him.

However, Dublin City Council says it may put the site back on the market but "is holding off for the moment and looking at the best time to put it back on the market".

They said it remains to be seen whether the site will go back on the market with the current planning permission or if any new developer will go back to the drawing board with a new planning application.

The Irish Times

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