Sunday 24 June 2007

Undaunted Dunne has plans for huge retail complex

DEVELOPER Sean Dunne's recent troubles with Dublin City Council have not stopped his ambitious plans - he's just sought permission to build Wicklow's biggest shopping centre.

The businessman has sought permission to develop an 80-acre site in Greystones which will see 20,000 square metres of shopping space, offices and 260 new homes built.

Despite having his proposal for a 32-storey skyscraper in Ballsbridge being shot down in recent weeks, the Carlow-born developer has pressed ahead with other business opportunities.

His plans for Charlesland in the Wicklow seaside town are part of a joint venture with Sean Mulryan.

The pair, trading as Zapi Properties, have lodged a planning application seeking permission for new homes, offices, community facilities and a district shopping centre which will be the largest in the Garden of Ireland.

At 80 acres, it will have twice the footprint of the Dundrum Town Centre, but be slightly less than the Blanchardstown Shopping Centre, which sits on a 107-acre site.

The application comes after local councillors agreed to change the zoning of the site to allow mixed-use development in return for a number of community facilities being handed over.

The legal agreement reach last December includes a five-acre site for a primary school, a site for a new garda station and a recycling centre.

The community will also be given almost 3,000 square metres of an enterprise centre for start-up businesses, along with a €3m donation to develop a community centre.

In return, the developers - who are already building 1,400 new homes and commercial facilities on neighbouring land - would get the site rezoned to allow the current proposal go ahead.

The deal was strongly supported by most local councillors at the meeting.

Yesterday, Greystones Mayor Derek Mitchell (FG) welcomed the proposal, but said he had concerns that the enterprise centre was too small.

"We're delighted, it's a good deal for the town because we'll get €15-20m of investment.

"There is one issue I'm unhappy with, and that's the enterprise centre. 2,800 square metres is in the application, but the plans I have seen are not satisfactory. I hope the plans submitted will be larger because enterprise centres need space for car parking.


"We need jobs in Greystones. We want to stop people commuting, and there'll be offices and the shopping centre here. We're the size of Sligo, and will finally have somewhere to buy washing machines and school uniforms."

If approved, Zapi will have 10 years in which to develop the site. The proposal includes over 32,000 square metres of office space, motor showrooms, a petrol station and 260 homes, of which 168 will be houses. A footbridge linking the site with Greystones will also be built.

In a separate development, a decision on whether a €300m marina will be built in Greystones is not now expected until August.

An Bord Pleanala was due to rule next week, but the decision has been deferred due to the complexity of the case.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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