Plans to transform the former ferry terminal in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, into Ireland’s largest technology innovation campus were dashed this week when would-be tenants discovered that Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company failed to obtain the necessary foreshore licence to lease the building — two years after the building had been advertised for lease.
Philip Gannon, project investor, spent more than 12 months negotiating the lease, experiencing long delays waiting for BER certs and planning permission from Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to transform the 7,500m2 site. This unexpected news was the final straw for Gannon who said it was “very disappointing” to be told seven weeks after receiving planning permission that the landlords did not actually have any legal right to lease the building:
“You would think that DLHC would have taken care of such basic requirements before advertising the property in the first place. When I was told that Gerry Dunne still remains in charge of arranging the foreshore licence, I decided to cut my losses and pull the plug,” he said.
This innovation campus was a described as a ‘once-in-a-lifetime’ opportunity to attract global tech companies to Dún Laoghaire and was set to deliver up to 1,000 jobs and a spend of around €6m per year to the town. The Ferry Terminal has been empty since the Stena Ferry operators pulled out in 2014.
In early October, Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company was transferred to DLRCC following a unanimous vote by the councillors to dissolve the company, giving full responsibility to the local authority for management and operations of the harbour.
Concerns however have been raised over a sizeable debt that comes with the transfer. DLRCC sought to secure funding for capital works required to bring the harbour up to ‘taking in charge’ standard but no funding has been made available as part of the transfer. The Harbour Innovation Campus was to deliver additional revenue of almost €15m in rent and rates to DLHC/DLRCC over the next 10 years.