Wednesday 30 September 2009

City to pay €10m to society for grounds

A CITY has agreed to pay €10 million in compensation to the Munster Agricultural Society (MAS) to acquire its historic Showgrounds home in Cork.

The payment is a quarter of what the society had sought. But an MAS spokesperson described it as "a win win situation for all involved".

A report on the terms and conditions of the deal is being prepared for city councillors.

It will be presented to them within the next two weeks before it can be signed off.

The compensation deal paves the way for the creation of a massive public park which city officials say will be as important to Cork as the Phoenix Park is to Dublin.

It will also facilitate the GAA’s plans to expand Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The proposed park is a key element of the city’s multi-billion Docklands regeneration project.

The compensation deal was finally agreed late last week almost two years after a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on 10 hectares in the docklands was cleared.

Cork City Council began the CPO process in 2006. It moved to acquire five separate sites around Páirc Uí Chaoimh totalling 10 hectares — the largest of which is the 8.7 hectare Showgrounds land in Ballintemple.

Following an oral hearing in November 2006, An Bord Pleanála confirmed the CPO in early 2007.

A notice to treat was served on the MAS in June 2007, but following the failure of either side to agree a compensation payment, an arbitration process was initiated.

That hearing took place last May and was told the society was seeking up to €42 million in compensation.

MAS’s legal representative said the MAS had leased the Showgrounds, which hosted agricultural shows and other events, from the council since 1892 and had 75 years left on its lease.

He said the charitable organisation was entitled to compensation under two possible headings based on:

* the market valuation of the Showgrounds site, estimated at €42m;

* or the "equivalent re-instatement" cost — the cost of building a similar facility elsewhere — estimated at more than €39m.

Mr Holland said the society was seeking the higher of whichever of the two amounts is chosen following arbitration.

"The future of the Munster Agriculture Society is at stake in these proceedings," he said at the time.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a substantial amount of non-hazardous waste has been found buried on the Showgrounds site.

The city’s Environment Directorate is investigating the matter and talks to resolve the issue are ongoing.

Irish Examiner

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