Tuesday 27 May 2008

Metro could boost jobs, study claims

THE DEVELOPMENT of a "Metro North Economic Corridor", which could create an additional 37,000 jobs over 20 years and fund half the construction and land acquisition costs of the proposed metro in north Co Dublin, was launched by Fingal County Council yesterday.

The study, commissioned from Indecon Economic Consultants, recommended intensive development along the "metro corridor" from Santry to Swords including the proposed "airport city" region.

The move would facilitate an increase in the number of jobs in the "corridor" to 66,700, and an increase in the population to 128,000 people.

The economic corridor strategy also plays a key role in a proposed new town plan for Swords and the "branding" of the corridor as an international business location, based on high technology manufacturing and service employment.

The envisaged employers include corporate head offices, information technology entities, financial and business services, science and technology projects and environmental products and services.

Additional strengths in the Fingal administrative area identified by the strategy are a new port at Balbriggan, new and upgraded road and rail funded under Transport 21, new industrial parks around the airport and a young, highly educated workforce. The plan notes the average age in Fingal is 32.2 years, and some 16 per cent of its population is under nine years of age.

While the costs of the metro have been criticised, Fingal county manager David O'Connor said the special development charges, currently being levied within one kilometre either side of the proposed line, had the potential to fund up to 50 per cent of the cost of buying land and building the metro itself.

A spokeswoman later explained that the levies would cover design, acquisition of property, diversion of utilities, provision of stops, car parks and other ancillary development. This does not include the 35-year operational and maintenance elements of the proposed PPP contract.

The actual amount of money the levies equate to is difficult to estimate. The Fingal special development levies are €319,725 per hectare for residential, €727,650 per hectare for commercial and €992,250 per hectare for retail development. The potential income from these is dependent on the intensity of the developments on site, notably their height.

Sources yesterday indicated that too many variables were involved to give a definite price, but many suggested Fingal County Council could be hoping to raise as much as €1 billion from its special development levy. The council did not reveal its own estimate.

Commenting on the strategy yesterday, Mr O'Connor said Metro North was the key to the sustainable continued expansion and economic growth of the "airport city" region and to Dublin as a whole.

Report: key recommendations
Fingal County Council should strongly support proposals for a university campus in the economic corridor.

Measures to facilitate the establishment of a hospital within the corridor should be pursued as a priority.

The Swords-Lissenhall, Dublin Airport Eastlands and Metropark sites should each be targeted for future development.

As well as allowing for residential development, potential non-residential uses for the Swords-Lissenhall site should include third-level education, healthcare, high-tech sectors and services.

The Irish Times


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