Thursday 18 September 2008

High-rise scheme may create 5,000 jobs a year, hearing told

SEÁN DUNNE'S redevelopment of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotel sites in Ballsbridge would cost almost €1.5 billion and on completion would generate 5,000 permanent jobs and €400 million every year, An Bord Pleanála has been told.

The financial details of the high-rise scheme, which includes a 37- storey tower, were disclosed for the first time yesterday at the planning hearing on the development.

Marion Chalmers, planning consultant for Mr Dunne, told the hearing that the capital investment in the regeneration of the site, for which Mr Dunne paid about €380 million three years ago, would run to €1.484 billion.

Nearly 1,000 construction workers would be employed each year for the duration of the seven-year-build, and 5,000 permanent jobs would be created every year when the scheme was completed.

The scheme would result in a net value to the economy of over €4 billion over 25 years, Ms Chalmers said.

However, she warned these benefits would be greatly reduced if An Bord Pleanála did not reinstate the office space refused by Dublin City Council.

The council had "seriously eroded the economic potential" of the scheme by refusing permission for the 28,000sq m of offices Mr Dunne sought, she said. Office use is not permitted under the current zoning of the site.

Without office workers, the number of jobs created each year would fall by 1,373 - one-third of the potential jobs.

This would result in a loss of nearly €172 million for the economy - a reduction of 55 per cent of the predicted financial benefits, she added. The scheme's retail element would, at 14,000sq m, create 1,129 jobs generating €47.2 million.

The turnover of the shops is estimated at €136.3 million, 95 per cent of which would stay in the Ballsbridge area, she said.

Mr Dunne also intended to spend €5 million on six pieces of public art, to be chosen in conjunction with the city council and the local community, which would be located in or around the site.

He had also committed to building a pedestrian bridge over the river Dodder, subject to planning permission, and contributing €5 million to other local amenities.

The hearing was also told yesterday the increase in traffic after construction would be "negligible", despite the addition of almost 1,000 parking spaces.

The number of parking spaces would increase from 356 provided by the hotels, to 1,316 if the development was granted permission. However, there would not be a significant increase in traffic, Mr Dunne's traffic expert Donal McDaid said.

The location of the development close to the city centre and several public transport routes would result in residents and workers using buses and trains, or walking and cycling.

Of the 1,316 spaces, 804 would be dedicated resident spaces and about two-thirds of those would be in "car stackers", a form of storage rather than parking, which results in fewer car trips, Mr McDaid said.

Construction of the development would result in 40 lorry trips an hour over a 15-month period. This is similar to the number of lorries that served Lansdowne Road stadium during its peak construction phase, he said.

The Irish Times

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