Sunday 9 November 2008

Property developers use idle building sites as car parks

Hard-pressed property developers are finding alternative uses for sites which are lying idle because of the downturn in the building industry.

Park Developments, which is headed by Michael Cotter, has applied to Fingal County Council for a ten-year temporary planning permission for a 2,715-space surface car park on a 17-acre site at Cloghran Stud Farm, Old Stockhole Lane, Cloghran. A shuttle bus will link the car park to Dublin Airport.

Dick Cuddihy, a director of Park Developments, said the site, which is just behind the Coachman pub, would eventually be used for a commercial mixed-used development.

‘‘It’s an opportunity to do something with an idle site,” he said. ‘‘There’s a lot of long-term parking on the south side of the airport and we see this as a location which can capture traffic coming from the north side. We will put in a very experienced operator and would hope to have it running by next summer.”

Cuddihy said that Park Developments was one of a number of developers that had opened car parks on building sites. He said that the building firm PJ Hegarty, for example, had opened a car park on the old Atlantic Homecare site in Sandyford, Co Dublin.

The Dublin Airport development will involve the demolition of existing farm buildings, the construction of internal roads and bus parking, and building a control office.

A 2.4-metre fence will surround the car park. The developers will also upgrade 300 metres of Old Stockhole Lane. An environmental impact statement has been provided to Fingal Council.

Turnover at Park Developments halved last year, falling to €67.4 million from €134 million in 2006.Profits for the year were down by more than 90 per cent, from €28 million to €2.6 million.

The firm’s main developments include the Park in Carrickmines. It also has a 50 per cent interest in the Hanover Quay and Cherry Orchard partnerships, as well as a half share in Sispar Ltd, which is developing a marina in Greystones, Co Wicklow. It employed 153 staff in 2007, with payroll costs of €18.9 million.

According to the accounts for Park Developments, the principal risks facing the group are ‘‘a downturn in the property market, increase in interest rates, change in property tax incentives, slowdown in the general economy, shortage of available development land and unexpected delays in pending planning permissions’’.

Sunday Business Post

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