LONG-RUNNING plans for a new town centre which straddles the border of counties Dublin and Wicklow have been approved by An Bord Pleanála.
The €2 billion development incorporates more then 900 new homes – including some 600 apartments, a hotel, leisure facilities, offices, a cinema, bars and more than 100 new shops.
Also envisaged is a greatly improved road link to the M11, and a major Office of Public Works flood protection scheme for the river Dargle.
The development is also likely to require approval from Nama. Project backers said yesterday Nama was expected to take responsibility for loans associated with the scheme sometime this summer.
A further difficulty will be market conditions which have changed dramatically since the plan was put together. The commercial space involved in the project is just under 60,000sq m.
While the site benefits from proximity to Bray Dart station and local buses, as well as the M11, attempts to develop smaller commercial ventures including the Florentine Centre on Bray Main Street and a district shopping centre at Charlesland in Greystones have so far proved unsuccessful. A number of smaller commercial developments in the immediate north Wicklow area have been empty for some time.
Two years ago, the planning board blocked development of the site because it said it would be “premature” pending the approval of the Bray flood defence scheme and pending a plan for the overall management of traffic in Bray.
The Pizarro development comprises Paddy Kelly and the Kelly family, the McCormack family vehicle Alanis, Durkan New Homes, Newlyn Group and Pierse Construction. The consortium bought the site in 2003 from Dwyer Nolan for €90 million. Mr Kelly has since been listed as one of Nama’s top 10 borrowers.
The development company has claimed the scheme would bring in more than €60 million in wages annually and employ more than 2,500 people.
Spokeswoman for the development Mary McDermott Roe said she believed the project would go ahead, albeit possibly in a number of phases. She said the scale of other proposed developments in the area was not comparable to the Pizarro project, which had the benefit of transport links and town centre status. While loans associated with the project were expected to go to Nama as soon as this summer, she said Nama had the power to invest to realise the potential of the development.
Permission for the project was granted separately by Bray Town Council and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council more than two years ago with 348 new homes on the former Industrial Yarns property at the northern end of the site. Bray Town Council approved commercial elements, a new bridge and a residential area of about 600 apartments.