Sunday, 1 February 2009

Developers sitting on the dock of the bay

The property crash has hit plans for the development of Dublin's docklands but landowners are taking a long-term view, seeking higher buildings and looking to develop sites that previously had industrial uses.

The multi-billion euro transport infrastructure and property group Peel Holdings may develop a commercial scheme at the South Quays container terminal in Poolbeg in Dublin. The company, which says it owns £7bn of assets, holds a long-term lease from Dublin Port on the 37.26 acre site via subsidiary MTL.

Peel has told the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) that the south port lo-lo terminal may be "co-located in the short to medium term" through either land reclamation or the "rationalisation of existing facilities at the north docks".

Peel is controlled by the Whittaker family and its assets include 14,000 acres of land, the Trafford Centre shopping complex in Manchester, a number of airports including John Lennon Airport in Liverpool and several ports in Britain. It is also involved in the development of MediaCity UK in Salford, to which the BBC is relocating five departments, and has other assets in Bermuda, the Bahamas and Spain.

Peel, via a submission to the Dublin Regional Authority on the future of Dublin Bay, has previously signalled its support for the relocation of all of Dublin Port's activities, with the exception of ferry and cruise liner facilities, outside of the city. The port lands could then be developed for residential, commercial and amenity purposes.

Details of Peel's plans for the future of the terminal are included in submissions made to the DDDA in relation to its new masterplan, which will guide future development in the area until 2013. Despite its submission, Peel's site remains partially zoned for the "protection and creation of industrial uses" with the rest of the site zoned for "social, economic and physical development", which is basically housing and enterprise uses.

Cosgrave Property Developments meanwhile wanted the docklands authority to "include and identify previously developed sites which may be suitable for further intensification and redevelopment", specifically the "Ulster Bank headquarters building cluster" on George's Quay and its nearby George's Court development. It also requested "a revised dockland wide height policy which outlines a clear framework for future developments".

The triangular former graving docks site at the entrance to Grand Canal Dock has had additional land zoned for development. The site is controlled by the DDDA and Waterways Ireland and they have already sought a developer and design team to design, construct and finance a mixed-use development on the site of just under three acres.

At nearby Boland's Mill, Seán Kelly's Benton Property Holding says the site is appropriate "to a strong architectural intervention" and said that going forward the "authority should consider site densification on a site by site basis".

In a separate submission from Benton and Treasury Holdings, the developers lobbied for a 20-80 mix between housing and commercial development in the area. Treasury's former headquarters, known as The Warehouse, is next to Boland's Mill.

On the other side of Grand Canal Quay, the Jordan family, Trinity College and Connaughton are planning to redevelop land that is also bounded by Pearse Street, Macken Street and the Esat building. Trinity plans to redevelop its site as a "technology transfer hub" and has appointed a design team to that effect.

Seán Dunne's Mountbrook also made submissions in relation to a 0.6 acre site it owns on City Quay which is said would be suitable for at least a 50-metre high building.

Iarnród Éireann said that some of the land proposed for zoning by the authority was premature pending the construction of the interconnector. It also said a triangular site in the IFSC bounded by three rail lines and should not be zoned for recreational amenity as "there is a need to minimise and strictly control public access to the area".

Tesco said that retail development in the area has not kept pace with residential development and said it "welcomes the provision of a district centre for the south docks".

In the north docklands, meanwhile, Liam Carroll's Zoe Group campaigned against the Liffey Island scheme which will see the DDDA allow buildings to be developed on stilts in the Liffey. It said that extending development into the river "is inherently inconsistent with many of the draft plan objectives and policies" and "conflicts with the strategic amenity of the Liffey river corridor".

Carroll also lobbied against parking restrictions in the area saying that the limits were "an impediment to attracting high order financial institutions to Docklands, and in such instances where institutions are globally footloose, a provision should be incorporated of one space per 100 metres of office use". He also said the 40% residential and 60% commercial development restrictions were "too rigid" and "localised". Carroll's Anglo Irish Bank headquarters building, which is partially completed, did not comply with that restriction, the High Court found.

Pierse Contracting has had the former Cahill Printers site zoned for "social, economic and physical development or rejuvenation" which will be mainly residential and enterprise.

The ESB meanwhile said it did not support the introduction of a public walkway along the South Ball Wall, saying it was not feasible in health and safety terms. For South Lotts Road, it lobbied for the continued residential zoning of 4.5 acres next to its Sportsco land. On East Wall Road, the board owns 2.6 acres which is bounded to the north by the Port Tunnel and applied to have it rezoned as it was made up of "disused and dilapidated buildings". The ESB?also said it would support the idea of including the land in any extension of the North Lotts planning scheme.

In the IFSC itself, Cosgrave Property Developments wants to redevelop its six storey Exchange Place building which it says is "appropriate for intensification".

ABN Amro, Irish Life & Permanent, Cartmel Partnership, Roadbridge's Pat Mulcair and Robert 'Pino' Harris also lobbied for higher density at the 1.88 acre Custom House Plaza which is next to the train station.

It has previously been reported that Treasury Holdings' REO and Spencer Dock Development Company had warned of flaws in the preparation of the masterplan. It said references to Dublin Port should be deleted and said it "reserved the right to instigate legal proceedings". It said it wants to develop a retail centre at Spencer Dock and said the district centre planned for Poolbeg by the DDDA would be "inappropriate".

Sunday Tribune

No comments: