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#dublinbay - Multimillion-euro projects planned for Dún Laoghaire Harbour, reports The Irish Times, have been thrown into question, including a €5 million urban beach, a €51 million diaspora centre, and a €30 million cruise berth facility.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has said there is no money for many, if not all, of the plans in advance of the publication of a new economic study on the viability of the proposals.

The proposals were put forward by the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company, which no longer operates the harbour.

The council took control of the harbour last year at the behest of Minister for Transport Shane Ross. The decision left many councillors unhappy, as the Minister did not provide funding to meet the estimated €30 million cost of carrying out structural repairs at the harbour.

In a progress report on integrating the harbour into the local authority which was presented to councillors on Monday night, council management said there was no money for many of the projects proposed for the harbour.

However, council management also said it had secured Government funding under the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund to draw up a “spatial and economic action study” which would make recommendations in relation to “potential economic opportunities for the town of Dún Laoghaire, including the harbour”.

Further reading on the story can be made by clicking here. 

 

Published in Dublin Bay

#dublinbay - New expressions of interest will be sought by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council for the former Stena Line ferry terminal site after a €20 million plan to convert it into a technology hub stalled late last year.

“Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown will be seeking expressions of interest for the development of the ferry terminal building in the next few weeks. Information sought will include production of a robust business plan and adequate proof of funding for the first three years of the project,” a spokeswoman for the local authority told The Irish Times.

The council is seeking expressions from consortiums, businesses, commercial interests, entrepreneurs or other individuals who will “develop and manage the property and offer space to the business sector while providing a positive economic impact for Dún Laoghaire town”.

Estate agent Lisney has been appointed to find an occupier. The building has a 10-year planning permission with an option to extend for a further period of five years.

Investor Philip Gannon had been leading a plan to transform the empty terminal into a 7,000 square metre digital hub, but last October pulled out of the project. Mr Gannon terminated his lease on the site after issues emerged over the lack of a foreshore licence needed to develop the property correctly.

The technology investor Ian Lucey had also been involved in the project to develop the terminal, but relations between him and Mr Gannon broke down some time ago. Mr Lucey has expressed an interest in continuing to be involved in the development if possible.

For much more on The Irish Times story, click here. 

Published in Dublin Bay

Speculation that a ferry service could return to Dun Laoghaire has reached fever pitch with the news that a British company has put in a bid to operate from the St Michael’s Pier terminal.

According to The Times, the Liverpool & North Wales Steamship Company, which was restarted two years ago, envisages running regular passenger cruises in the Irish Sea and will be “ready to sail” from next summer.

The ferry company’s chief executive Steve Payne plans to present his pitch to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council — the authority that now controls the harbour — by the end of this year, laying out plans for services that could employ 240 people.

Payne revealed to Afloat.ie that as well as the cruise bid involving its 650-passenger vessel, it also wants to operate a regular ferry service serving its home base of Liverpool and also Llandudno in North Wales.

The company’s flagship heritage pleasure steamer TSMV Endeavour is presently in refit in Liverpool.

However, one of the investors involved in the recently scrapped Harbour Innovation Campus proposal says he intends to push on with a tech hub scheme for the former ferry terminal.

Ian Lucey currently faces a High Court action from Harbour Innovation Campus developer Philip Gannon in a case that’s understood to be separate from Gannon’s decision to pull out of the Dun Laoghaire venture last month.

Note: This piece has been corrected to remove a previous statement that Philip Gannon and Ian Lucey were business partners. The shareholder agreement clearly states that no partnership was created. We are happy to make this clarification.

Published in Dublin Bay

#Safety - Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has posted a safety advisory for swimmers in Dun Laoghaire over an incident of plastic pollution between the West Pier and the Forty Foot.

According to the local authority, “small strips of plastic” that have washed ashore in recent days may be present in bathing waters.

While the plastic poses no chemical danger, it could be a nuisance or at worst a physical risk to swimmers.

As The Irish Times reports, contractors working on the redevelopment of the Dun Laoghaire baths site are launching a clean-up operation in the affected area after “a quantity of fibres” was washed into the water during a concrete pour.

It follows community efforts led by local environmental hero Flossie Donnelly, who recently donated a second Seabin for cleaning surface debris in Dun Laoghaire Harbour to the National Yacht Club.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLharbour - People in Dún Laoghaire Rathdown are getting “a gift and a jewel” in the transfer of the Dún Laoghaire Harbour company to the county council, Minister for Transport Shane Ross has insisted.

As The Irish Times reports, the Minister confirmed that he had on Wednesday formally signed the transfer of the harbour company’s functions to the county council.

Mr Ross rejected claims that the company had €33 million in liabilities and insisted it was closer to €10 million which would extend over a long period of time for repairs and maintenance.

He stressed that it will not affect local property tax or local projects and the transfer included a “seven-digit cash reserve”.

The Minister was speaking during a heated Seanad debate on the company’s transfer.

“It’s a gift and a jewel being given to the people of Dún Laoghaire Rathdown,” he said. “This is a great deal for the citizens and residents.”

For more the newspaper reports here in addition Afloat this week revealed a cruiseship from Norwegian Cruise Line is to call during the 2019 season totalling six calls.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Councillors in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown have expressed anger and frustration over the transfer of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company’s multi-million liabilities to the local authority.

Transport Minister Shane Ross was in the Seanad this afternoon for statements on the transfer of functions of the harbour company to Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council (DLRCoCo), which was made formal today (Wednesday 3 October) after he signed off on the move last week.

DLRCoCo later held a Special Meeting to debate the transfer, at which Councillor Cormac Devlin said the debt “will have a significant impact on future council budgets and may lead to reduced services and increases in commercial rates and the Local Property Tax.

“The chief executive of the council confirmed to members that the figure of €33m may actually be at the lower end of the scale of liabilities. This directly contradicts Minister Shane Ross’ claim to the Seanad that the debt is only €10m.”

Cllr Devlin called on the Government to “find a way to indemnify the council to ensure residents and business owners do not suffer for their policies.”

Councillor Dónal Smith was even more vociferous, branding Minister Ross’ lack of a promise of indemnity as “a kick in the teeth for the people who elected him. He has hung a financial albatross around the necks of his constituents. He will not be thanked.”

Cllr Smith said suggestions that the council sell public lands earmarked for housing to pay down the harbour’s debts amount to “a scandal”.

“If Fine Gael gives a toss about the residents and ratepayers of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown, their Government will indemnify the council,” he added.

Update on Thursday 4 October:  The full Special Meeting can be streamed in full from DLRCoCo's webcast player HERE.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown county councillors have suggested a potential increase in Local Property Tax to help offset Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company’s multi-million-euro liabilities, now that the harbour has been officially transferred to local authority control.

Cllr Barry Ward tweeted late last night (Wednesday 26 September) that Transport Minister Shane Ross had signed over responsibility for Dun Laoghaire Harbour “with no financial provision for the estimated €33.5 million debt now imposed on his own constituents, despite repeated calls for fairness from councillors.

“[Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown] cannot sustain this level of financial liability,” he added.

A slew of projects and developments in the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown area — from Stillorgan Library to Glenalbyn Swimming Pool to the Marlay Park Masterplan — are now “all in jeopardy”, according to local councillor Barry Saul.

Cllr Lynsey McGovern added that “we can kiss goodbye to keeping commercial rates and property tax down now,” while Cllr Jim Gildea said even a 30% increase in LPT “would only give us €15m. I for one couldn’t vote to hoist that burden on our householders”.

Minister Ross confirmed back in April this year that “all assets and liabilities” of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company would transfer to the local authority upon the former’s dissolution — and made clear that National Ports Policy does not provide for Exchequer funding “for any port company”.

The transfer of liabilities was branded as “unacceptable” at the time by local Green Party councillor Ossian Smyth.

Independent Senator Victor Boyhan was set to raise the issue of the harbour transfer and its financial implications for DLRCoCo in the Seanad this morning, as previously reported on Afloat.ie.

Update Friday 28 September: Cllr Barry Ward tweeted confirmation that Dun Laoghaire Harbour will come under control of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council next Wednesday 3 October.

Fine Gael councillors have called for a special meeting on the issue on the same day at 5pm. An invitation will be extended to Transport Minister Shane Ross.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Dun Laoghaire County Council is currently involved in final negotiations over the takeover of Dun Laoghaire Harbour.

In his response to a Dáil question on the timeline for transfer of the port to the local authority, Transport Minister Shane Ross confirmed that the order of transfer was sent to the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government in mid July.

This followed issues relating to risk assessment that were “clarified at meetings that took place between the relevant officials” in the council and harbour company executive since March.

Local residents in Dun Laoghaire also met over the summer to establish any “common concerns” that may be presented to the harbour’s new overseers.

Afloat.ie understands that the final negotiations are centring on the harbour company's liabilities, which local Green Party councillor Ossian Smyth branded as “unacceptable” in April this year.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DublinBay - Proposals to turn the former Dún Laoghaire Ferry Terminal into a “digital technology hub” which could support up to 1,000 jobs and 50 companies has received planning permission.

The Irish Times writes that the project’s developer, Philip Gannon, says he intends to invest €20 million to transform the abandoned building on St Michael’s Pier into the “harbour innovation campus”. It will be the largest technology hub in Ireland and one of the five largest in Europe, he said.

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council granted permission on Tuesday for the project to go ahead.

The ferry terminal has lain empty since 2015 when sailings ceased. Under the terms of the planning permission the outside of the building will remain the same while the 7,000 square metre interior will be transformed into a campus for technology companies, similar to the Digital Hub in Dublin city centre.

For further reading on the development, click here.

Published in Dublin Bay

#DLHarbour - Solicitors for Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company called for the retraction of “damaging and disparaging statements” made at a council meeting on the transfer of the port to local authority control, it has emerged.

According to today’s Sunday Times (6 May), the solicitors claimed that remarks by four Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown councillors at the meeting on 6 March “call into question the proper governance and management of the company.”

Mason Hayes & Currin repeated their demand on 16 March to DLRCoCo chair Tom Murphy, who replied that he was not responsible for statements made by other councillors in meetings, which are in general under qualified privilege.

Read more on this story from the The Sunday Times (behind the paywall).

Published in Dublin Bay
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