Call for housing on Leopardstown site heating up

by Rebecca Ryan
Councillor Chris Curran told Dublin Gazette the land at the Leopardstown site is “ideal” for housing

The call for housing to be built at an empty site in Leopardstown is heating up.

The states most valuable empty site next to Leopardstown Racecourse has been valued on the Vacant Sites Register at €66.5 million and is owned by Horse Racing Ireland (HRI).

Local authorities have been given the power, since January, to charge a levy on property owners who do not develop prime land that could be used for housing.

The HRI faces a vacant site bill of over €2m from next year if the site is not developed.

The council want the land to be used for public and affordable housing.

A council spokesperson said: “A letter was issued to the Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government, Minister for Agriculture and the Board of Horse Racing Ireland detailing a resolution adopted by the council at the meeting of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on April 9, 2018 requesting HRI to make appropriate development land, zoned A available to the council for the provision of public and affordable housing.”

As a commercial semi-state body, the HRI, through its board, reports to the Minister for Agriculture Food and the Marine.

However, a spokesman for Minister Murphy said: “As the owner of the site, HRI has primary responsibility for any future plans for its development.

“However, the Department, via its Housing Delivery Office in particular, has been and will continue to work to ensure, where appropriate, social and affordable housing is delivered from publicly owned sites that are available for development.”

Green Party councillor and housing spokesman Ossian Smyth said the site needs to be used for housing.

“In the middle of a housing crisis, it is not acceptable to see state bodies like HRI and the Central Bank, sitting on huge tracts of land that have been zoned for housing.

“The council has asked for a meeting with The Minister for Agriculture (who is responsible for HRI), the Minister for Housing and the board of Horse Racing Ireland to see how we can use this vacant land.

“The Housing Minister Eoghan Murphy met with councillors recently and promised that funds would be made available to build new housing, and asked us to identify suitable sites, so the ball is in his court and we await his response.”

Sinn Fein councillor for Glencullen Sandyford, Chris Curran said he is calling on the Government to intervene.

“On the board of Horse Racing Ireland there are two ministerial appointees, so the state has a direct input into that organisation.”

Cllr Curran previously told Dublin Gazette the land is “ideal” for housing.

He said: “It is already zoned residential, it is water and drainage serviced, has its own LUAS stop and is within a few hundred meters from the M50.”

There are reports that HRI are considering plans for housing, a hotel and a school on the land.

When asked about those reported plans, and the call for the land to be used for housing, chief executive of HRI Racecourses Ltd, John Osborne, told Dublin Gazette they are going through a process at the moment with the local council.

“Leopardstown is Dublin’s only racecourse and a master plan is underway which will seek to maintain the racecourse as one of the best in the world.

“This will include the development of some of the land at the periphery, subject to planning, benefitting our community, and we are going through a process with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.”

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