Nuns secure €13m in sale of Goatstown school lands
The Religious sisters of Jesus and Mary are understood to have secured in the region of €13m from the sale to housebuilders Durkan of a serviced residential site of 2.18 hectares (5.4 acres) beside Our Lady's Grove Primary School at Goatstown Road, Dublin 14.
The price being paid by Durkan Estates Clonskeagh Ltd represents a considerable premium of 30pc on the €10m which had been sought by WK Nowlan Real Estate Advisors when they brought the property to the market in March.
The lands are located in one of south Dublin's most sought-after suburbs, close to UCD and between Mount Merrion and Dundrum from east to west and between Clonskeagh to the north and Sandyford to the south of Goatstown. The site has the potential to accommodate between 70 and 80 houses and apartments, according to a development appraisal carried out in preparation for the sale. The sale also includes a 0.16 hectare (0.41 acre) site under a long lease with a restrictive covenant precluding any uses which are not childcare in nature.
In acquiring the lands, Durkans will be obliged to deliver an astro-turf pitch for Jesus and Mary College, rotated 180 degrees from its present position.
While parents of children attending Our Lady's Grove primary school and Jesus and Mary College had voiced their objections to the sale, arguing that the schools would be left with no green space and no room to expand in the future, the nuns have defended their decision to sell, saying the income it delivers will be used to support the congregation's other ministries, including overseas missions and the ongoing care of sisters, a number of whom would have taught in the two schools. The nuns have also given a commitment to fund a new astro-turf hockey pitch for the secondary school at a cost of €600,000.
The board of management at Our Lady's Grove wrote to parents prior to the sale of the lands saying it "could not offer" the nuns the unconditional support they had sought for a planning application for the site. In the letter, the board claimed the Sisters and their representatives had not been "open and transparent", and accused the order of "unexpected and unilateral" changes during negotiations aimed at ensuring that a non-commercial childcare facility would remain on the site.
In a statement issued to the Irish Independent yesterday, the Congregation of the Religious of Jesus and Mary confirmed that contracts had been signed for the sale of two sites on the Goatstown Road to Durkan Estates Clonskeagh Limited.
Commenting on its decision to proceed with the deal in the face of the objections of parents and in the absence of the unconditional support from the board of management of Our Lady's Grove, the Congregation said: "Engagement with all stakeholders on site was initiated and meetings held. Fair and equitable agreement was sought from all stakeholders to positively progress a planning application for the lands. Support was required from all stakeholders on site to progress a planning application. As this support was not forthcoming the lands were offered for sale and the process has now concluded with the sale to Durkan Estates Clonskeagh Limited." The statement added that meetings would be arranged shortly between the purchaser of the Goatstown site and the various stakeholders to discuss what it described as "relevant matters" arising from the sale of the lands.
Highlighting the history of its involvement and investment at Our Lady's Grove, the Congregation said it had purchased the site in the early 1960s following a request to build schools for girls in the locality. Shortly after the acquisition of Our Lady's Grove, a convent was established.
In the late 1960s, the Congregation built a girl's secondary school using its own funds, and a girl's primary school was built later. In early 2009, the order set about reconfiguring the layout of the site, which has seen the construction of a new primary school and the vesting (in process) of its site; the construction of a new residence for the sisters at Errew House; a new spine road, set-down area and carparks for the schools, and the construction of Phase 1 of new houses at 'The Grove' by Durkans.