Friday, 7 December 2007

€180m package at risk as golf club deal hits council bunker

MEMBERS of a leading Dublin golf club who were set for a €100,000 windfall after voting to sell the club to a developer could be waiting years for their money.

It emerged that Clontarf Golf Club is only allowed to use over 62 acres of publicly-owned land for golf purposes, and nothing can be built on it. Unless councillors agree to rezone the land, the deal will not proceed and members will face losing out on €100,000 each.

Dublin City Council told councillors four years ago that it leased 62.3 acres of land abutting the Malahide Road to the golf club, but that a covenant in the lease meant it must be maintained as a golf course.

It also emerged that the land is zoned for "open space", and there is no proposal to change the zoning.

Despite members voting in favour of the deal, the club has not yet made official contact with the city council -- but it is understood there have been unofficial contacts.

Fine Gael council leader Gerry Breen said last night that a number of councillors were made aware of plans to sell the club over a month ago.

He said that concerns remained over the sale of public land to facilitate development, adding that the council would have to receive a very good deal for any plans to proceed.


Last Thursday members approved a €180m package, allowing the club to be sold to Capel Developments in a deal which would see the developer provide a new home at Portmarnock Links, a new clubhouse, €75m to the club and a €100,000 bonanza for members.

At a meeting attended by 538 of the 670 full members at the Marino Institute, 91pc voted in favour of the course swap- plus-cash deal.

Currently the club pays the council just over €19,000 a year to use the land, with rent reviews every five years.

It is also understood that under the terms of the lease, the trustees of Clontarf Golf Club are not allowed to assign their leasehold interest -- or sell it on -- without the consent of Dublin City Council. No such application has been received.

Now Capel Developments face a lengthy battle to convince councillors of the merits of the deal. Councillors will ultimately decide if the deal goes ahead and will also have to approve the rezoning of the lands for redevelopment.

But last night Labour Councillor Aodhan O'Riordain slammed club members, accusing them of "arrogance" for not consulting with the council.

"I'm just concerned about sports facilities. First we had Tolka Park, Dalymount and Parnell Park being sold, and now Clontarf Golf Club," he said.

"It's arrogant, to say the least, that anyone involved in the golf club would think they could do this without consulting the council. I don't see myself in a position to agree to sell these lands. When they come to us, they shouldn't underestimate our powers to knock this on the head. They must know we have powers and won't hesitate to use them."

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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