Certain among the city’s many dozens of vacant sites stand out from the rest for the great potential they possess, should the owners build on them.
One such plot of land is situated at the intersection of South Richmond Street and Lennox Street, in Dublin 2.
It’s not far from the Grand Canal, across the road from popular watering hole the Bernard Shaw on South Richmond Street, and opposite the Bretzel Bakery on Lennox Street. The 0.36-acre site has lain empty for the better part of a decade.
According to the council’s vacant sites register, it currently belongs to Crekav Trading, – the development company which is part of the Marlet Property Group owned by Pat Crean.
The Irish Times reported earlier this year that the site was one of a number of Crekav properties around Dublin that were “quietly hitting the market”, with €7 million being suggested as a guide price.
The plot is listed on the register as valued at much lower price, though, of €4 million.
Crekav have appealed the site’s inclusion on the list, with An Bórd Pleanála expecting to make a decision by the end of August.
Marlet reportedly claim that the site is unsuitable for use as housing. The register is supposed to be limited to residential and regeneration land.
The site has been subject to a half-dozen planning applications over the last number of years. A three-storey building known as Richmond House, belonging to the Institute of Education, stood there until the mid-2000s.
Permission to demolish Richmond House was granted in 2000, and renewed in 2005. In October 2007, the Irish Times reported that the site was coming to the market with an expected price tag of €8 million.
The most recent of the applications on the site came from Crekav in 2015. And in July 2016, An Bórd Pleanála granted permission to Crekav to build a four-story mixed-use development, an office block with a single retail unit at street level.
The application was subject to an appeal by local tenants and owners of property, who claimed that the proposed development constituted an “inappropriate response to the provisions of the Development Plan and also to the built form character of the area”. The site borders a line of protected structures on both Lennox and South Richmond Street.
That appeal, however, was ultimately withdrawn.
In the two years since the application for Crekav’s office block was granted, there has been little in the way of activity on the site.
The site’s inclusion on the council’s vacant sites register renders it liable for the vacant sites levy, when that comes into force next year. (Unless Crekav’s appeal to An Bórd Pleanála is successful, of course.)
Whether this will spur any actual development to take place, either in the hands of Crekav or any prospective new owners, remains to be seen.
[UPDATE: This article was corrected on 6 July 2017 at 15:58, to make it clear that Crekav is part of the Marlet Property Group belonging to Pat Crean. Apologies for the error.]