Lowry: Valueless site does not need to be declared

Michael Lowry has said he will not declare a speculative property investment he retains in England until the land is rezoned and realises its value.

Dáil members are required to register any interest they have in land worth more than €13,000.

However, he said the 25-acre site he bought in Wigan, with fellow Tipperary man Liam Carroll, is “valueless” until the local council changes its existing greenbelt status.

“The only time that land will have any value is if it is rezoned. It is unlikely it will be rezoned under the current plan,” he said.

In an interview with Tipp FM, Mr Lowry confirmed that in 2001 he purchased options to buy up to 10 large properties surrounding a site which he presently deems to be “worthless”.

When these expired, he said he and his partner did not extend the options as the asking price was too high.

The area — at Junction 25 off the M6 — is now the subject of a controversial plan to transform the greenbelt into a 30-hectare commercial zone.

In Aug 2011, Wigan Council mapped out a proposal site. This involved nine landholders, including Mr Lowry and Mr Carroll. If the Lowry/Carroll plot is rezoned, recent sales in the area suggest the land would be worth at least €10m.

However, the North Tipperary TD said he did not believe the proposal to rezone the property to house a 4,700-job employment park would go through.

He said he and his partner had not touched the property in the 11 years since they bought it and he was prepared to “sit on it” as a speculative investment.

He said that under the current zoning discussions, he believed his site would not be part of the employment park, and said his property was not included in the specific council rezoning map.

However, the document published by the council identifies his holding as being within the subject zone.

Yesterday the council said it had not ruled out any of the designated sites within this map. Consideration had been suspended for six months because there was the possibility of designating the area for more lucrative residential developments.

However, last week the residential plan was ruled out and instead the council is awaiting a follow-up inspector’s report on the original, employment park scheme.

The council said there was no guarantee any site identified in its maps would be included or excluded from the employment park.

It said once an inspector delivered a report early next year, a detailed assessment of each section of the area would be put out for public consultation.

Mr Lowry said until that process is complete and the zoning status was confirmed, he believed the plot was worth nothing and did not have to be declared to the Oireachtas.

Anything I have had to register I have registered, in this situation the land is valueless because it has no status. It is not agricultural, it is zoned green belt and the land is being reclaimed by nature it is useless.

“If it was to be rezoned in the future it would have a value and obviously it would be declared.”

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