Unreal estate

Why Is the Old Whitehall College Building Empty?

The former Whitehall College of Further Education building in the north of the city is empty at the moment. But it’s unclear exactly why.

The squat cream and red building just off Swords Road was built in 2007 by Tyrone-based company Western Building Systems.

It was assembled on-site within a week, and the principal at the time was “absolutely thrilled” with the new building, according to a post on Construction Ireland that year.

In 2009, though, the National Standards Authority of Ireland “conducted an inspection of Whitehall College of Further Education, a Western Building Systems design and build contract, under ‘Scheme 84’ which is a site inspection scheme for public buildings,” according to a press officer for the body.

The report was given to Western Building Systems, the architect and subsequently to the Office of Public Works (OPW) and the college, said the NSAI press officer.

But none of the government bodies will comment on what was in the report or what is going on with the building – this time, because of ongoing legal proceedings, they say. (A case is listed in the High Court from 2014.)

“The case is ongoing and no further comments can be released,” said a spokesperson for the Office of Public Works. It refused to release the report under FOI because of the case, too.

Kay Cullinan, head of administration at the City of Dublin Education and Training Board, said the same: “Because it is the subject of a legal case, our position is that we can’t make any comment.”

So it’s unclear how much was spent on the building, whether it was always intended to be temporary, and what the disagreement is about.

David McCavery of Serious PR, who is fielding question for Western Building Systems, said the company is “aware of a case being brought against a number of organisations inc [sic] Western by the Office of Public Works. It is entirely unrelated to fire safety issues and Western has submitted a defence.”

Western Building Systems was the contractor for five schools, which were the subject of recently released fire-safety audits. It also built the first round of “rapid-build” housing in Poppintree in 2016.

Lois Kapila portrait
Lois Kapila

Lois Kapila is Dublin Inquirer's managing editor and general-assignment reporter. Want to share a comment or a tip with her? Send an email to her at info@dublininquirer.com.

 

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