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Dundrum developers: we're not to blame for flooding

THE developers behind the Dundrum Town Centre have insisted that they are not to blame for the tsunami-like flooding that engulfed the renowned retail mecca last Monday night, stating that it was designed to the "highest standards".

Several investigations are now under way to establish the precise causes of the Dundrum debacle, which saw a torrent of water from the River Slang rush through the centre's ground floor doors, windows and basement level car parks, forcing the centre's management to evacuate panicked shoppers and movie goers.

While early inquiries by engineers for both developer Joe O'Reilly's Crossridge Investments and Dun Laoghaire- Rathdown County Council are pointing to an "overtopping" of the River Slang at a location above the Dundrum site as the source of the raging flood waters, serious questions in relation to its location and its flood prevention measures will invariably be raised by the centre's insurers.

Indeed, an examination by the Sunday Independent of the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), prepared in the year 2000 at the time of the Dundrum Town Centre's planning application, shows how the site it now occupies had already been flooded by the River Slang, just seven years earlier in 1993.

"Flooding has occurred on the Slang Stream in the past and the disused Pye factory at the Ballinteer Road end of the site was flooded in May 1993," the report explains.

"This arose when the channel of the stream was blocked by debris close to the inlet to the Mill Race and resulted in flood waters flowing alongside the north side of the Castlebrook access road over the existing bridge and into the forecourt of the Pye buildings."

And as recently as this year, a flood risk and assessment study produced by Dublin City Council stated bluntly: "There is no viable flood risk management option available for the entire Dundrum Slang."

Asked by the Sunday Independent if Crossridge Investments -- Dundrum Town Centre's developer and owner -- was satisfied that it had done everything possible to prevent last Monday's flooding, a spokesman for the company was adamant that the centre had been "designed to the highest standards and in compliance with all regulations".

A spokesman for Crossridge's engineers TJ O'Connor said they were now preparing a comprehensive report on the flooding at Dundrum, and had already sought rainfall data and other information on the flooding within the River Slang catchment area as part of this process.

The spokesman further insisted that the culvert constructed by the developer to convey the 450-metre stretch of the River Slang that sits within the Dundrum Town Centre's site had been sized to meet Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's requirement to cater for a one-in-500-year flood-flow occurrence.

A council spokeswoman, meanwhile, said that it would be "premature" to respond to questions on the specific causes of the Dundrum Town Centre flooding prior to the completion of its investigations.

"Local authority engineers in Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown are currently engaged in investigating the sites of the worst affected areas with a view to developing a full understanding of the nature and consequences of what occurred," the spokeswoman said.

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"The in-depth investigation will include an examination of what occurred at the Dundrum Town Centre.

But whatever outcome there is to those investigations, Dundrum Town Centre director Don Nugent insisted last night that it was very much "business as usual" at the south Dublin shopping mecca.

"People have voted with their feet. The centre is busy. We're coming into one of the busiest shopping weekends of the year," Mr Nugent said

"We're about to launch our Christmas the week after next. We've haven't changed our schedule or promotional dates. It's business as usual."

It remains to be seen what action, if any, the centre's retail tenants will take to recover the financial losses they have suffered through loss of trade and damage to their stock.

A spokeswoman for Marks and Spencer, whose store was badly flooded, told the Sunday Independent that the company was still assessing the damage done to its Dundrum store and would not be making any further comment at this point.

A spokesman for House of Fraser declined to comment when asked if the company would be seeking compensation for its losses.

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