Kerry County Council has said it cannot complete the purchase of a prime 50-acre site for community and amenity use in Kenmare, which it had bid for with Nama, because the lands do not have the vacant possession required.
The council said that it appeared the lands it had agreed to buy from Nama last year had not been secured.
The council’s statement comes after it emerged that proceedings in the High Court by a receiver seeking vacant possession are to go to a full hearing.
Last autumn the council said its bid for the lands was successful but legally there was some distance to go before the purchase could be finalised.
The 50 acres stretch from Kenmare Bay pier to the town centre. At the height of the boom 40 acres of the site changed hands for almost €19.5m.
Plans were submitted for a second town centre, for Kenmare, sparking massive controversy. The plans were refused.
The lands ended up in Nama. The council has not disclosed how much it agreed to pay in its bid, because this was “commercially sensitive”.
Local representatives said the land would be to Kenmare what the Killarney National Park is to Killarney and walkways, sporting, boating, public parking as well as social housing needs would be met.
However, proceedings were pursued in the High Court by receiver Kenneth Fennell seeking vacant possession of the lands.
Defendants were named in the proceedings as Brian Gallivan, a local property developer, and Johann Ventura. It is understood Mr Gallivan and Mr Ventura are claiming a legal interest in the lands due to grazing and use. It is understood Mr Gallivan is alleging he had a grazing agreement with the prior owners which continued. Mr Gallivan said he did not wish to comment.
On July 6 in the High Court in Dublin, Mr Fennell applied to the High Court for injunctive relief seeking inter alia vacant possession.
The application was refused. However, the judge in the High Court fixed an early hearing date for January.
A spokesperson for Kerry County Council said, as a state agency, it had had first refusal of the Nama lands and had entered into a deal.
“However vacant possession is a priority. We are an interested buyer — but we aren’t going anywhere without vacant possession.”
A Facebook campaign is now under way, ‘Protect our Peninsula Kenmare’ asking for signatures to force politicians to pressure the council to purchase the lands.
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