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Tuesday 24 October 2017

Plot offered to Government for free now comes with price tag

Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

THE Government will have to pay for a site previously offered for free by solicitor and developer Noel Smyth if it chooses Newlands Cross as a location for the national children's hospital.

Mr Smyth offered to donate the 32-acre plot of land on Dublin's Naas Road for the hospital project as far back as 2006.

But now if the Government selects the site, it will have to pay for it. This is because the Anglo Irish Bank loan used to buy the land for more than €20m is now in NAMA.

Mr Smyth's site is among 11 that have been suggested to Health Minister James Reilly by NAMA. Mr Smyth has also made a submission to the review group considering locations for the children's hospital.

Back in 2006 the well-known philanthropist said his company Alburn Development was bringing together a consortium that included Anglo Irish Bank as well as construction firms offering to build the hospital at Newlands Cross on a "not for profit" basis.

Mr Smyth renewed his offer to build the hospital at "cost price" at his site or elsewhere on numerous occasions since 2006.

Following the refusal of planning permission for the Mater site in February, Mr Smyth said the land is still available and his team was "ready and willing" to assist.

But now if the Government chooses the site it will have to pay for it, either at the cost price or the current market value, whichever is cheaper.

NAMA declined to comment on any of the sites it has suggested to the National Children's Hospital Review Group.

Ultimately, if the Government selects any of the sites suggested by Nama, it will have to pay for them at the current market value, with the proceeds of the sales going towards paying back the outstanding loans.

Irish Independent

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