Council rejects claims it wasted €40m by failing to stick to own plan

One of Ireland’s most expensive local authority’s has rejected claims it wasted more than €40m on botched planning projects since 2005 by failing to follow its own development plan.

Figures published by An Taisce show Dublin City Council splurged the funds on 26 ultimately failed projects over the seven- year period.

According to the 31-page report, the council spent the money — €500,000 every month or just under €16,000 a day during the period — on doomed plans.

An Taisce said the projects — including the initial decision to build the National Children’s Hospital at the Mater site and the doomed Liberty Hall regeneration — failed because the development plan was not properly followed. This specifically relates to concerns over the height and bulk of certain buildings, accessibility, and other factors which should have been flagged had the development plan been implemented.

However, the council has said its decision-making has been vindicated by government-commissioned reports.

The specific spending being examined includes:

* €30m on the initial, highly controversial plan to build the new National Children’s Hospital at the Mater site;

* €10m “frittered away” on 25 other initiatives, including high-profile changes to Liberty Hall and Jury’s/Berkley Court.

An Taisce said the council’s inability to prevent the spending when it was clearly in breach of the development plan should be examined further.

However, Dublin City Council has rejected the claims, saying the local authority’s decisions were vindicated by an internal government review and a separate independent report last year.

Highlighting its concerns the group’s heritage and built environment officer, Ian Lumley, said: “In supporting a National Children’s Hospital in the wrong location —- and in clear contravention of the height guidelines of its own development plan — Dublin City Council wasted €30m of taxpayers’ money in design fees, as well as delaying the provision of a National Children’s Hospital.

“In the case of the Mater site the consequences are clear: a cost to taxpayers of approximately €30m.

“Where the developer is not the State, there still remains a very significant cost to taxpayers, even if it is less obvious.

“City council officials, members of An Bord Pleanála, as well as other officials that review planning applications are all publicly-paid employees.

“It would be a very conservative estimate to say the matters outlined in this document have cost taxpayers tens of millions.”


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