2,000 properties face takeover threat from DART Underground
UP to 2,000 businesses and homes will be forced to live with the threat of their properties being taken over by Iarnrod Eireann for the next seven years.
The state railway company was yesterday granted permission to build the DART Underground line, but has been given up to 2018 to formally tell owners along the route if their land will be needed to build the line.
Normally, state agencies taking land under Compulsory Purchase Orders (CPOs) are given 18 months to complete the transaction.
The decision of An Bord Pleanala to allow the railway company seven years to acquire the lands comes because the government has suspended all work on the project.
This means that landowners will have difficulty selling or developing their properties until a decision is made on whether the €2bn project will go ahead.
Experts last night said that having the threat of a CPO hanging over a property meant it was effectively "unsellable".
"It would certainly frighten off any investors," a spokesman for Hooke & MacDonald said. "The CPO would make them unsellable. If I was in someone's shoes and noticed that the property was going to be adversely affected, I would shy away from it and I think lending institutions would as well."
The DART Underground is a proposed 7.6km underground railway line running from the CIE Railway Works at Inchicore to East Wall. It would link with DART, commuter services, inter-city trains, Luas and the proposed Metro North.
Five underground stations would be built at Heuston, Christchurch, St Stephen's Green, Pearse Street and Docklands, with a sixth overground station at Inchicore.
Two tunnels would be constructed at a maximum depth of 35 metres below ground level. If built, it will increase the capacity of the Greater Dublin area's rail service to 100 million passenger journeys a year, compared with 30 million at present.
Iarnrod Eireann said it was ready to go ahead with the project if funding was available.
The Dublin Chamber of Commerce added it was an "important step" in addressing the transport needs of the capital.
But the government will not review the project until 2015 to see if funding is available to go ahead. Property owners said the uncertainty meant they could do nothing with their sites until then.
Director of the Sherling Group in Inchicore, Frank Moore, said it could not continue in business if its lands were taken. Up to one-third of its site is subject to a CPO.
"We couldn't wait around for seven years," he said. "CIE plan to take about one third of our plot and it would make our premises unusable. We're a large structural steel stockholding.
"We're concentrating on the UK at the moment but when the economy comes back, we would be re-establishing ourselves here.
"The problem is this puts a question mark on the site. If we want to invest, do we put in a couple of million into the site or not? There's limitations as to what we can do with the site."