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Priory Hall fiasco costs taxpayer €3.2m and no end in sight

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Tom McFeely. Photo: Courtpix

Tom McFeely. Photo: Courtpix

Tom McFeely. Photo: Courtpix

IT'S cost the taxpayer more than €3.2m but there is still no resolution in sight to the long-running Priory Hall saga.

The issue of the 256 residents who were evacuated from the Donaghmede death trap in October 2011 is back before the courts tomorrow – this time the Supreme Court.

Virtually nothing has been done with the 187 fire-trap apartments since they were deemed unsafe, yet the costs of alternative accommodation and security just keep growing as the stalemate over who will fix Priory Hall rumbles on.

Dublin City Council will try to overturn a High Court ruling ordering it to cover the cost of alternative accommodation for the beleaguered residents of the controversial development, which were built by bust developer Tom McFeely.

The repair bill for Priory Hall at the time it was evacuated was €7.3m, but to date a figure equal to nearly half of that has been spent on housing residents and keeping the site secure.

The bill for the emergency hotel accommodation for the evacuated residents cost €1.2m, and the council is using an estimated €45,000 a month to lease 43 private homes to house families and residents of the development who remain in limbo.

On top of this, a once-off payment that totalled €75,000 was provided by the local authority to 48 private renters to find suitable accommodation.

Security at the site is costing €60,000 a month, meaning it has cost more than €1m to date.

A harder cost to calculate is that carried by residents who have sought to renegotiate mortgages and looked for payment moratoriums in the fallout. Others have resorted to organising interest only repayments after they opted to rent in a place other than where the council was putting them.

 

Unfair

These 'concessions' by banks add to the interest to be repaid on capital borrowed, and some residents have told the Herald that the added costs to mortgages are up to €200 a month.

When residents bought their apartments in 2006, they paid between €250,000 and €290,000. Local Fine Gael councillor Pat Crimmins said it was "unfair" that the taxpayers has been left to foot the bill.

"I backed the idea that the city council shouldn't have to pay these costs. It's hard enough to put a budget together as it is without having to cover Priory Hall too," he told the Herald.

"The taxpayer is the one ultimately covering this cost and that is not right."

He suggested the Department of Environment "take more interest" in the case, but did admit that if they footed the bill, the cost would still have to be picked up by the taxpayer.

Meanwhile, the Cabinet has now approved proposals for the preparation of a new Planning and Development Bill to establish a new Planning Regulator.

"I believe the new Planning Regulator will improve the quality of planning in Ireland, increase transparency and accountability and, most importantly increase public trust in our planning system," said Minister for Housing and Planning Jan O'Sullivan.

cfeehan@herald.ie


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