Thursday 7 October 2010

Concern over Nama role for Greystones development

CONCERN HAS been expressed for the future of the €300 million redevelopment of Greystones Harbour after builders confirmed the project is to come under the control of Nama.

Work on the marine elements of the project is scheduled for completion within a month, with the next phase involving the creation of a new harbour square, a medical centre and the provision of five new clubhouses for existing harbour users.

The plan, which is a complex public-private partnership between Wicklow County Council, home builders Park Developments and civil engineers John Sisk Son, was financially underpinned by the development of retail space, a 320-berth marina and 341 new homes.

Some €80 million has already been spent on the development of the new harbour and marina. However, concern for the project’s financial viability was first expressed by the builders themselves. Operating as the Sispar consortium, they asked Wicklow County Council to allow the development of an additional 34 new homes, bringing the total housing element to 375 units.

But renewed concern has now been expressed by councillors following the confirmation from Sispar that the project is now headed for Nama.

The chairman of Wicklow County Council, Labour’s Tom Fortune, said the announcement “came as a shock”.

He said councillors “had been led to believe that the project was on track for partial completion by the end of 2011. Now that is all up in the air. We have been advised that the completion of the project is dependent on Nama making funding available.”

“I think that there is a real risk that the project will not be completed and that if we do not act the hoardings around the harbour could be left there for a very long time,” he said.

However a spokesman for Sispar said Nama was taking in all loans over €5 million, whether they were performing or not. He said he had not heard anyone say the Sispar loans were not performing. While he acknowledged future decisions would require the approval of Nama, he said work was still “ongoing” and a stoppage leaving the hoardings up would seem “unlikely”.

Seán Quirke of Wicklow County Council also confirmed the project was to come under the control of Nama.

He said councillors would be voting on the additional 34 housing units in December and the next phase would get under way in January. He said this did not mean a hiatus in the schedule, as work would continue around the harbour.

Mr Quirke confirmed An Bord Pleanála had issued a decision that the additional 34 new homes would require a new environmental assessment. But he said this was because the homes were initially to be located on an old dump.

The council had subsequently decided to move these houses and therefore could grant permission without reference to a new environmental assessment. Mr Quirke said the council did not believe it needed to consult An Bord Pleanála on the question of a new environmental assessment in relation to the new housing site, as the board’s objections had related only to the former dump.

The council proposes using Part VII of the Planning and Development Act which does not provide for an appeal process.

Irish Times

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