Bad news for Dun Laoghaire as plans scrapped for digital hub

by Rebecca Ryan

The developer behind plans to turn Dun Laoghaire’s former ferry terminal into one of Europe’s largest technology innovation centres, Harbour Innovation Campus,  has pulled the plug on the project.

The CEO of the Harbour Innovation Campus, Philip Gannon terminated his lease on the ferry terminal building after discovering that the tenant at the time, the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company, which earlier this month moved under the control of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLRCC), failed to obtain the necessary foreshore licence to lease the building.

Planning permission was secured in August for the 7000sqm Harbour Innovation Campus which would attract the world’s best-known technology companies to Dun Laoghaire.

It was expected to support 1,000 jobs and bring additional annual of around €6 million per year to the town.

It was also forecast to deliver almost €15m in rent and rates to DLRCC over the next 10 years.

Mr Gannon said he spent more than 12 months negotiating the lease, in addition to long delays with the planning process.

He said it is “very disappointing” to discover that just seven weeks after receiving planning permission, the landlord did not actually have any legal right to lease the building, despite advertising it for lease two years ago.

“You would think that Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) would have taken care of such basic requirements before advertising the property in the first place.

“When I was told that the Chief Executive of DLHC was still trying to obtain the foreshore license, I decided to cut my losses and pull the plug on Dun Laoghaire. I am now looking at other buildings in and around Dublin.”

The Ferry Terminal building has lain empty since the Stena Line ended its ferry service in 2014.

On October 3, control of Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company was transitioned over to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council.

Local Senator Victor Boyhan has called on all public representatives and Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to work together to secure an alternative site can be within the town of Dun Laoghaire.

He said: “The €20 million plan to transform the St Michael’s Pier building into the largest technology hub in Ireland, supporting up to 50 companies and as many as 1,000 jobs is now dead in the water.”

In a statement, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council told Dublin Gazette that approval in principle to the foreshore application was granted by the Department of Housing Planning and Environment on 1st October 2018 and had been referred to the Chief States Solicitors Office for drafting.

“The council was taken aback at the press release from the developer with regards to the Harbour Innovation centre. Clearly this is a very disappointing development.

“The council still supports the project and believes it can proceed at this location which would provide a transformative space for business and will also impact so positively on the town of Dun Laoghaire.”

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