Monday 23 October 2017

Dozens of closed garda stations face State sell-off

Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE Government plans to sell off unwanted state property including 40 garda stations closed over the last two years.

Junior minister at the Office of Public Works (OPW) Brian Hayes said that offers would shortly be sought for the stations and that some would also go to community and voluntary groups for use.

The move is part of a rationalisation of how the State manages its portfolio, with the OPW responsible for 2,000 buildings across 1,700 properties.

Local authorities, the HSE, Department of Education and other agencies also have substantial property holdings.

But the Government wants to make best use of its portfolio and avoid renting accommodation when state-owned buildings are available.

From the autumn, a database will show vacant properties which could be used instead of leasing from the private sector.

"There's an opportunity to utilise the whole estate and get value for the taxpayer," Mr Hayes said at the launch of the Property Asset Management Delivery Plan in Government Buildings.

"Where opportunities come to sell buildings we will consider them. We're always looking to restore older buildings and complete office fit-outs. Many of our buildings are in very strategic locations.

"Some 137 garda stations have been closed and 40 will be put on the market over the next two months. The remainder will be offered to the public service, and five or six handed over to other public sector bodies while community groups may also be offered space."

Among the stations being offered, four are in Galway and Cork, with three each in Limerick, Tipperary, Leitrim, Roscommon and Meath.

One estate agent said that stations in isolated areas would be harder to sell. It was likely prices would have fallen by as much as 60pc since the boom, he said.

The stations are being sold in 21 lots ranging from one to four properties. Estate agents have submitted bids to sell the buildings and advise on market prices, and offers are expected to be received in the autumn.

The OPW is also considering working with the private sector where it could purchase the buildings, which would be leased back to state agencies.

Last year, 150 leases comprising 14,000 square metres of accommodation were surrendered, and the State's annual rental bill has reduced from €131m in 2009 and €108m.


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