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Aoibhin Bryant

Center Parcs presents €85 million extension to popular Longford resort

By | Industry News

Center Parcs has put forward its plans for an €85 million extension to its lush Longford forest resort.

The holiday company had previously announced its intentions to expand last year and has now submitted its plan to Longford County Council.

The extension will see the building of 198 new additional accommodation lodges – including four luxury tree houses and external sauna/pods associated with specific lodges.

A lakeside restaurant and coffee shop are also included in current plans and an extension to both the existing Aqua Sauna spa facility and Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise.

New treatment rooms and a treetop sauna are envisioned for the spa while the swimming paradise is set to enjoy a brand new pool.

Permission for the installation of a solar panel on the roof of the Sports Hall and the Sports Café building has been sought – where an extension to both the hall and the café has been proposed.

Numerous Village Cente restaurants including Huck’s restaurant, Cara’s restaurant, Sports Café restaurant and Bella Italia are also seeking extensions.

The provision of new cycling parking and 313 new car parking spaces for staff are included in current plans.

A new District Heating system with an Energy Centre is in current plans as well as a staff welfare and storage building and two new remote housekeeping stores.

Announcing its resolve last year, it was previously estimated that 300 new jobs would be created throughout the construction process of the extension – should it get the green light.

Planning was lodged in August of this year, just three years after the popular resort first opened its doors in 2019.

And despite a pandemic and restrictions impeding for a large part of its operation, the UK-based company confirmed that it has welcomed over 1.1 million swimmers to its popular Sub-Tropical Swimming Paradise and sold 72,451 pints of Guinness.

A decision date from Longford County Council has yet to be established.

Dublin City Council gives go-ahead for 11-storey hotel on Abbey Street

By | Industry News

Dublin City Council has approved the construction of an 11-storey hotel on the city centre’s Abbey Street.

The plan was submitted to the Council by Tom Phillips & Associates on behalf of Abbey Street DevCo Ltd.

The plan’s approval comes after An Bord Pleanala refused planning permission for a build-to-rent apartment scheme on the same site in December 2021.

Set to cost an estimated €74 million, it will have 252 bedrooms.

As well as the hotel, a 222-bed 10-storey aparthotel block will also be erected, which will front on Great Strand Street.

A reception area, a restaurant and bar, a lounge and a gym are included in current plans.

Dublin City Council has approved the construction of an 11-storey hotel on the city centre’s Abbey Street. Credit: Michael Collins Associates

Dublin City Council has approved the construction of an 11-storey hotel on the city centre’s Abbey Street. Credit: Michael Collins Associates

Two retail units are also envisioned for the ground floor, with an off licence area in the larger retail unit.

Giving the green light to the scheme, the city council also ordered the company to pay a planning contribution fee of €941,632.00 to the Planning Authority in respect of the LUAS C1 Line Scheme.

This amount is payable on commencement of construction.

Approving the hotel, the planner’s report stated that the development “would assist in the regeneration of a vacant site, and would provide for active uses onto Great Strand Street and Byrne’s Lane and create new connections between Great Strand Lane and Byrne’s Lane and potentially Abbey Cottages”.

The report continued: “… The proposed development would be in keeping with development plan provisions, and with the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

The hotel received one objection from a Frank McDonald, who wrote in his six-page objection to the project that it “is just another glaring example of the incessant grinding of a mill bent on turning Dublin into an Anywhere City”.

MetroLink

Planning application for MetroLink to be brought forward to An Bord Pleanala in September

By | Upcoming Construction Projects

The Government has confirmed that a planning application for the long-awaited MetroLink will be lodged with An Bord Pleanala in the coming months.

Last week, Green Party leader and Minister for Transport Eamon Ryan secured agreement from the Cabinet to proceed with the MetroLink rail project.

The sponsoring agency for the project, Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII), is now set to put forward a Railway Order planning application to An Bord Pleanala in September.

The project could commence construction as early as late 2025 with hopes that it would be operational in the early 2030s.

The fully automated underground rail system will be the first of its kind in the country, with Ireland currently being one of the only European countries without a metro.

At 19.4 kilometres in length, the proposed route will span from north county Swords to Charlemont, south of the City Centre.

Metrolink September

Artist’s impression of the station serving St. Stephen’s Green. Credit: Courtesy of gov.ie

Stations are planned for Dublin Airport, the City Centre as well as serving residential communities in Swords, Ballymun and Glasnevin.

Stations will have connections to Irish Rail, DART lines, Luas services as well as bus and BusConnects services.

Current forecasts indicate that trains will run every three minutes at peak times with the system able to carry up to 20,000 passengers per hour.

By 2060, this could rise to trains every 90 seconds.

A final project cost has yet to be devised as the project must still go through planning and procurement stages.

However, current predictions see a cost of €9.5 billion – the midpoint scenario of a €7.16 billion and €12.25 billion cost range.

The Exchequer will front three-quarters of the cost and one quarter will be paid by the Public Private Partnership (PPP).

Speaking on the decision, Minister Ryan hailed the MetroLink as a “ once in a generation project” that will “massively transform” public transport in Ireland’s capital.

“This project in various guises has been on the table now for 2 decades, but the government’s decision on the MetroLink Preliminary Business Case marks a significant milestone. Now this exciting transport megaproject starts to become a reality,’ he said.

Metrolink September

Artist’s impression of MetroLink station serving Collins Avenue. Pic: Courtesy of gov.ie

“We are giving the green light to a transport system that will be integral to the city and the country’s sustainable development in this century, and into the next.”

He iterated that the project is “hardwired” to Ireland’s current climate ambitions with the system set to provide over 1 billion carbon neutral passenger trips by 2050.

“It will contribute to a shift from the private car to more sustainable travel, helping to decarbonise the transport sector in line with government policy,” Minister Ryan continued.

“I’m delighted that the government has agreed with my recommendation to proceed with the project, and I look forward to it entering the statutory planning stage this September.”

Anne Graham, Chief Executive of the National Transport Authoirty (NTA), said that the MetroLink will “encourage more people to get out of their cars and on to public transport.”

In the opposition camp, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Trade Darren O’Rourke welcomed the project’s announcement but called on Minister Ryan to explain the project’s “ballooning cost”.

Metrolink September

Artist’s impression of MetroLink station serving Tara Street. Credit: Courtesy of gov.ie

“We need assurances that this project will now be finally delivered on budget and on time, and ahead of schedule if possible,” he said.

“I am concerned about the massive cost escalation for this project already. The original National Development Plan 2018-2027 estimated this would cost €3 billion.

“Today the government are saying it could cost up to €12.25 billion; over quadruple that previous estimate. Construction inflation is pushing up the cost of projects across the board, but not at a rate of over 300%.”

New £25 million hotel in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter gets green light from council

By | Upcoming Construction Projects

Belfast City Council has approved the development of a £25 million hotel in the city’s Cathedral Quarter.

The 164-bed hotel is set to be erected from the former Nambarrie Tea Factory building on the corner of Waring Street and Victoria Street.

The plan will see a three-storey extension to the old factory, which will include a rooftop “sky” bar.

A ground-floor restaurant, a fitness room and meeting rooms are also included in the current plans.

The hotel is backed by Essex-based investment company Propiteer.

The £25 million investment will be a Moxy hotel, a sub-group of the Merriot Hotel brand.

Propiteer’s website states that the Moxy will bring “Marriott International’s contemporary brand to the historic Cathedral Quarter of Northern Ireland’s capital city”.

“Following the acquisition of the old Nambarrie tea factory in Belfast, a prominent building in the city centre, Propiteer have worked closely with city councillors and the planning department to sympathetically retain structural elements of the existing building, whilst designing a unique seven storey hotel reflective of its cultural surroundings.”

It also promises that the ground floor will be designed to accommodate live music.

The Belfast City Council’s Planning Committee approved the proposal unanimously at their meeting on June 14.

In the council’s Professional Planning Report, it was found that the “three-storey extension was considered acceptable following key design changes to minimise its impact on the character and appearance of the host building, setting of adjacent listed buildings and the conservation area”.

Their backing comes despite objections from the owners of the nearby Merchant hotel on Skipper Street.

According to the Belfast Telegraph, owners Beannchor put forward concerns to the council over the lack of notice of the new development as well as overshadowing.

A council Planning Officer raised their objections at the meeting on June 14, stating their concerns that an extension would “give rise to noise, odour, overlooking and overshadowing impacts on the amenity of residents in their hotel.”

At the meeting, officers found that there would be “no unacceptable overshadowing” due to the separation distance between the two buildings.

The report recorded one other objection to the hotel, which queried if the “heritage” street sign would be retained.

The report said that the objector had “no objection to any other part of the design proposed above, only to preserve a piece of our heritage.”

It is understood that the sign will be retained as part of the proposals.

Almost 1,000 homes to be built on former Dundrum hospital grounds in SHD development

By | Industry News

Nearly 1,000 homes are set to be built on the lands of the former Dundrum Central Mental Hospital.

The Land Development Agency announced its intentions to apply to An Bord Pleanala for a 10-year permission for a Strategic Housing Development on the grounds of the former hospital.

In current plans, the site is squarely placed in the immediate area of a number of proposed protected structures, namely the ‘Asylum’, the ‘Catholic Chapel’, and the ‘Hospital Building’.

With a total application site area of c.9.6 ha, the development will consist of 977 residential units – almost all apartments.

Of the 957 apartments, 423 will be one bedroom units, 317 will be two bedroom units (for four people), 37 will be two bedroom units (for three people), 110 will be three bedroom units and 53 will be studio apartments.

Further 17 apartments will be duplex, consisting of three bedroom units and 14 three bedroom units.

Current plans see all apartments having private balconies and terraces as well as a communal amenity open space provision – including courtyards and a roof garden.

Of the other homes envisioned, 20 two and three storey houses are in current provisions, consisting of seven three bedroom units and 13 four bedroom units.

The development will also consist of 3,889 sqm of non-residential uses with the change of use and renovation of the existing single storey Gate Lodge building to provide a café.

A restaurant, six retail units, a medical unit, a community centre and a childcare facility with an associated outdoor play area are also included in the application.

The development will consist of the demolition of existing structures on the site, including a single storey former swimming pool and sports hall, a two storey redbrick building, a single storey ancillary and temporary structures and removal of existing internal subdivisions/ fencing, including removal of security fence at Dundrum Road entrance.

A demolition of a section of the porch and glazed screens at Gate Lodge building, the removal of walls adjacent to the Main Hospital Building and alterations and removal of sections of the wall to the Walled Garden are also included in current plans.

Provisions for public open spaces, cycle and pedestrian routes and parking are also accounted for.

Vehicles will be able to access the site from the existing access area off Dundrom Road and a new access area also off Dundrum Road to the south.

Minister for Education confirms that 20 school building projects to progress to tender stage

By | Industry News

Minister Norma Foley

“I am pleased that this programme will provide significant additional provision for children with special education needs at post-primary level and in special schools. This will be an important feature for post-primary school projects generally given the need to enhance our capacity to deliver provision for children with special educational needs at post-primary level.

The Department of Education

Minister for Education Norma Foley TD confirms that 20 school building projects, being managed and delivered on a devolved basis by the National Development Finance Agency (NDFA) on behalf of the Department, are expected to progress to tender stage.

The Minister can confirm that the first phase of the process for the procurement of design and build (D&B) contractors for the ambitious programme has been completed through the selection of five D&B contractors.

The second phase of the procurement process will involve the tendering of the first bundle of projects by these D&B contractors and the establishment of a contractor framework to tender for each subsequent bundle of projects as they become ready (design work completed and planning permission etc. obtained).

The 20 school building projects are being delivered in three distinct project bundles: Project Nore, Project Boyne and Project Dargle. Subject to the timelines for obtaining planning permissions, it is envisaged that these projects will proceed to tender and ultimately construction over the course of 2022 and 2023.

Project management and design team consultants have already been appointed for all projects within the programme. Each project bundle is currently progressing through a different stage of the design development process and, once they have completed the statutory approvals process, they can all then be expected to proceed to tender to the contractor framework.

These projects when completed will deliver in excess of 14,000 permanent school places (additional and replacement places) which includes over 50 special classes. It also includes new and modern facilities for 22 classrooms in two special schools. The overall list of 20 projects included in the programme is set out below.

Minister Foley said:

“The rollout of these projects to tender and construction is an important aspect of the Department’s overall delivery under the Government’s National Development Plan 2021 to 2030. They will assist in delivering on the provision of modern and sustainable infrastructure for the schools sector.

“I would also like to acknowledge the work of all the school communities, stakeholders and particularly the NDFA in driving forward with this major programme of school building projects. The NDFA is an important strategic delivery partner for the Department and I look forward to continuing to build on this relationship in the future with the rollout of further programmes.”

Welcoming this announcement Minister of State for Special Education and Inclusion Josepha Madigan said:

“I am pleased that this programme will provide significant additional provision for children with special education needs at post-primary level and in special schools. This will be an important feature for post-primary school projects generally given the need to enhance our capacity to deliver provision for children with special educational needs at post-primary level.

“As a Government we are committed to providing state-of-the-art facilities for our students and I look forward to seeing these projects continuing to progress.”

ENDS

US Pharma giant submits plans for €76 million factory in Limerick

By | Industry News
Eli Lilly Limerick Plan

Proposed site

US pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly has put forward an application for a €76 million factory in Co Limerick.

The company is seeking a 10-year permission to develop a four-storey Biopharmaceutical Manufacturing Campus with an overall floor plan of 47,384 sqm.

The main building will be approximately 18,534 sqm and 33 metres high with roof-mounted plant/equipment and solar panels.

Eli Lilly submitted the planning application to Limerick City and County Council on February 28 – but had made the big announcement in January of this year.

The proposed site is Raheen Business Park, a 5km distance from Limerick’s city centre.

A decision date from the council is due on April 14.

The new factory expects to deliver 300 jobs from engineers, scientists and operations personnel and a further 500 jobs during the plant’s construction with the corporation intending to invest €400 million into the new facility.

Tánaiste and Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment Leo Varadkar TD welcomed the US company’s decision as “fantastic news”.

“The Mid-West has become a real hub for leading biopharma companies such as Lilly and I’m really pleased that the company has chosen Limerick for its new manufacturing centre, investing over €400m and creating 300 new, permanent jobs and a further 500 jobs during construction,” Mr Varadkar said.

“This new manufacturing centre is a significant expansion of that work and I wish the entire team the very best with the project.”

Eli Lilly Limerick Plan

Credit: Jacob’s Engineering Limited

Eli Lilly currently hires more than 2,500 employees in Ireland across its manufacturing campus in Kinsale, Co Cork as well a global business services centre in Cork’s Little Island and a commercial team which operates across the country.

The company first began its operations in Ireland back in 1978.

“Over the past 40 years, we have continued to invest in Ireland in part because of supportive government policies that value life science innovatio,’ said Senior vice president and president of Lilly Manufacturing Operations Edgardo Hernandez.

“This new Lilly campus in Limerick will allow us to expand our capacity to make innovative new medicines that can help treat some of the world’s most serious illnesses.

“This facility will use the latest technology to support advancements in science, productivity and sustainability, further establishing Lilly as a global manufacturing leader.”

CEO of IDA Ireland Martin Shanahan also hailed the announcement as demonstrative of the “confidence Lilly has in Ireland” and the Mid-West’s “strong talent pool”.

“I wish to assure Lilly of IDA Ireland’s continued support.”

Major construction of €62 million Palmerstown build-to-rent development begins

By | Industry News

Major construction has begun in Palmsterstown on a €62 million development that originally started site work last May.

The building of Block C and E of a strategic housing development at lands on Palmerstown Retail Park, Kennelsfort Road Lower, Palmerstown, Dublin 20 kicked off this month.

Although work originally began in May 28 last year, work on the first two blocks has only begun.

All in all, the development will see the creation of 250 “build to rent” apartments as well as a café and other residential facilities.

Block C will provide 47 of these apartments, 30 of which are one-beds and 17 which are two-beds.

The building will be six storeys high over a basement.

Palmerstown Build To Rent

Credit: Digital Dimensions

Block E, at eight storeys, will contain 63 apartments in total, 40 of which will be one-beds and 23 two-beds.

The development will consist of five blocks in total.

Block A will have 27 apartments ranging from three to six storeys over the basement and a communal roof garden on the third floor. Most apartments in the block will have both private balconies or terraces.

Block B is set to hold 46 apartments — comprising 18 one-beds and 28 two-beds at six storeys over the basement in height. All apartments will be provided with private balconies or terraces.

Palmerstown Build To Rent

Credit: Digital Dimensions

Block D will contain the most apartments with 67 at seven storeys in height. Of these dwellings, 33 will be one-beds and 34 will be two beds. Most apartments in this block will have private balconies or terraces.

The works will see the entire demolition of all existing structures on site.

The development will also include upgrades to vehicular and pedestrian/cyclist access to Kennelsfort Road Lower and landscaping consisting of play equipment and upgrades to the public realm.

While Randelswood Holdings Ltd submitted plans for the development, the McGrath Group is the main contractor of the project.

The property development group recorded profits of €5 million last year.

Palmerstown Build To Rent

Credit: McGrath Group

While work at the Palmerstown site began in 2021, commencements for that year remained static when compared to 2020.

The Building Information Index 2021 Q1-Q4 saw commencements stagnate at €10.5 billion – no change from 2020 and a 10% decrease from 2019.

However, cautious optimism is on the cards for the sector with residential planning applications up 54% in 2021.

This substantial rise is largely attributed to the number of Strategic Housing Development applications submitted in the later months of 2022.

Building Information Index 2021 Q1-Q4

By | Building Information Ireland

A new report has spelt positive news for the construction industry with planning applications as a whole on the rise.

After two years marred by COVID-19 lockdowns, Building Information Index 2021 Q1-Q4’s has an optimistic outlook for the industry in 2022 as restrictions come to an end.

In the index released this week, it was found that there is the capacity for an 18% surge in construction levels across Ireland by the end of this year.

This boost comes off the back of a steady rise in planning applications in 2021 which saw the total value of new planning applications rise 44% higher from 2020.

All regions benefitted from this increase, with the exception of Connact/Ulster which saw an 8% drop in new applications.

Residential planning applications were up 54% in 2021 with Dublin and Cork (Munster) showing impressive gains of 75% and 76% respectively.

This substantial rise is largely attributed to the number of Strategic Housing Development applications submitted in the last year, particularly in the later months.

However, while applications are on the rise, commencements remain static at €10.5 billion – no change from 2020 and a 10% decrease from 2019.

Furthermore, residential unit projects with over 33,000 units started work in 2021 – an almost identical figure to 2020 and 2019.

Employment in the sector is also down 16% when compared to pre-pandemic levels which will forecast limits and possible delays to projects for 2022.

The report speaks of anecdotal evidence showing major administrative delays in processing larger projects, particularly Strategic Housing Developments.

Building Information CEO Danny O’Shea said: “Our year-end 2021 Building Information Index is showing more cause for optimism in the industry when compared with previous years.”

“Hopefully, the lockdowns are behind us now and we can focus and plan 2022 with a better degree of certainty than has been the case for quite some time.”

Mr O’Shea continued: “However, as noted, we must be mindful that while the demand is there, and the intent of the industry to deliver that demand is certainly present, we may have shortfalls in terms of labour, skills and materials that must be overcome.”

Sadly, not all factions of the industry have seen positive growth in the last year with the commercial and retail sector continuing its downward trajectory into 2021.

Planning applications were down 11% last year from 2020 and was felt in all regions except for Munster.

Granted applications also remained the same in both 2020 and 2021.

Building Info expects a further 15% decline in construction activity throughout 2022 with no presumption of a turn-around in the short or mid-term.

Meanwhile, the industrial sector is booming with new applications rising by 27% in 2021, in particular from  IT, manufacturing and pharmaceutical companies.

Regionally, Munster experienced a significant increase of 110% in applications last year.

Furthermore, granted applications are up 52% with turnaround times also relatively short for industrial projects at 63 weeks.

For 2022, the Index indicates a 37% growth for the sector in 2022.

The agricultural sector experienced a slight decline nationally in 2021 of 4%. Granted applications were also down 7% with Munster suffering the brunt at -26%.

For both the medical and education sectors, 2021 was a relatively steady year with no further declines expected for either in 2022.

However, the turnaround times in the medical sector are 15 weeks slower than the industry average.

For the social sector, a slow recovery is most likely after it experienced significant blows during the pandemic. In 2021, new applications increased by 60%.

This data was compiled from real-time planning and project information by BuildingInfo with the estimated monetary build value of every construction project per sector in the country measured.

Projects with a value of less than €200,000 were omitted from the index, with the exception of the agricultural sector.

Buildinginfo_index_2021

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New €10 million plan set to renovate historic Howth Castle

By | Industry News
Howth Castle

Credit: Darmody Architects

Howth Castle is set for a huge makeover with a €10 million plan submitted for its redevelopment.

In a joint application, WSHI Ltd. and the Michal J Wright Group submitted planning permission to Dublin’s Fingal County Council which could see the historic site transformed into a tourist hotspot.

The plan includes major restoration works alongside refurbishments and the construction of new buildings.

The development proposes the demolitions of some farm buildings as well as converting both the castle’s ground floors and the stable areas from primarily residential use to hospitality and tourist retail use.

In the stable area, a 150-seat glass pavilion restaurant is planned alongside both gin-making and cookery schools.

On the ground floor of the stable yard, a number of artisan retail stores are envisioned.

Meanwhile, within the main castle building, there are plans to change the use of the upper ground floor into tea rooms and a reception area.

On the lower ground floor, there will be a conversion of rooms to tea rooms, kitchens and storage areas.

No further works or changes have been made for the other floors of the castle other than a fire upgrade.

On the castle grounds and within the renowned walled gardens, there are intentions to construct a garden centre, a falconry and petting farm as well as picnic and play amenities

The erection of a temporary marquee and ancillary facilities for wedding events is also in current plans.

A pedestrian entrance is planned to open from The Howth Road along with schemes for 6km of walks and cycleways through the estate which aim to link Sutton and Howth.

These works will all be undertaken by a single management company which will cover the castle, the stable areas and attendant lands.

In a statement announcing the planning application, the Michael J Wright Group assured that the National Transport Museum will remain in the heart of the new development.

The project promises the creation of 150 new jobs when the redevelopment is completed, with 100 jobs during the construction phase.

Tetrarch Capital has owned the Howth Castle Estate since 2019 with the Michael J Wright Group now taking a 25-year lease.

The plans were submitted to the County Council on January 31 2022.