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Saturday 18 November 2017

Developers ordered to pay €16m for roads after row with council

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

TWO of the country's biggest developers have been ordered to pay more than €16m to a county council to settle a long-running dispute over a roads levy.

Sean Dunne and Sean Mulryan will have to cough up the money after An Bord Pleanala ruled they have to pay for new roads to serve a massive multi-million euro shopping centre in Newbridge, Co Kildare, which opened four years ago.

And both face the prospect of legal action if they don't pay the development levies imposed by the council.

The ruling comes at a time of mounting financial pressure on both men, with loans related to Mr Mulryan's company Ballymore Properties transferred to NAMA earlier this year, while banks have also taken a stake in Mr Dunne's Jurys Berkeley Court properties in Dublin 4, which he bought for €379m.

The row -- between the developers and Kildare County Council -- has been brewing since 2003, when planning permission was granted for the Whitewater Shopping Centre, one of the biggest in the country.

The permission included a requirement that new roads be built to carry the extra traffic, while a traffic management plan for Newbridge also had to be paid for.

The planning permission stated that both conditions had to be complied with "before development commences", but this was not enforced.

This was despite the council and developers failing to agree how much of the costs should be met by the owners of the shopping centre, and what levies should be applied for the added value this infrastructure would bring to the development.

The roads have been built by the developers. However, after years of unsuccessful negotiations, the matter of cost and levies was referred to the planning appeals board by the developers. It is allowed to rule on how development levies are applied, and its decisions are legally binding.

The first condition related to providing traffic signals, implementing a one-way system and improvements to the town's inner-ring road.


"The board considered it reasonable that the referrers (Sean Dunne and Sean Mulryan) should pay the entire cost of the works specified," it found, ordering that €100,000 be paid to the council.

A second condition was that a bus service linking the shopping centre to the town centre and train station be provided, and four new roads built. The amount to be paid was calculated on the size of the shopping centre.

"It was considered that the percentage traffic change at various locations on the local road network, as specified by the planning authority, constituted a reasonable basis for the formulation of a contribution, reflecting the impact and cost of the development of the local road network," the board found.

It ordered that €16,171,900 be paid. "This is additional to expenditure on works already carried out," the board said.

"In making its decision, the board had regard to those matters to which, by virtue of the Planning and Development Acts and regulations made thereunder, it was required to have regard," it added.

Kildare County Council said it was studying the order. Mr Dunne and Mr Mulryan could not be reached for comment.

Mr Dunne has since sold his stake in Whitewater for a reported €197m. Mr Mulryan is still involved in the centre.

Banks have taken a stake in Mr Dunne's Jurys/Berkeley Court properties.

Late last week, Dublin City Council granted planning permission to build a hotel and apartments on the site, but he must pay €17m in levies. The decision is likely to be appealed.

Irish Independent

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