Theme park plan shelved

Plans to build the world’s largest theme park complex in Dublin were shelved tonight after councillors rejected a presentation from the developers.

Plans to build the world’s largest theme park complex in Dublin were shelved tonight after councillors rejected a presentation from the developers.

The United Entertainment Partners group said it would now take its €7bn project elsewhere, possibly to Britain.

A special meeting of Fingal County Council heard a presentation by the group which claimed the project would create 40,000 primary jobs and another 25,000 secondary posts in north Dublin.

However, councillors described the proposal as vague and sloppy and unacceptable in its current form.

Officials also argued that the development contravened government regulations and questioned its long-term viability.

The ambitious plan included the creation of three theme parks, 14 hotels, 10,000 apartments, a concert venue, an ice rink, a golf course and an equestrian centre.

The developers estimated that 35 million people would visit the 2,500-acre park annually with 18 million coming from overseas.

The group also offered to fund the building of a 22km twin track monorail link from Dublin to the site in Fingal, to widen the motorway leading to and from the park, and to build a power station to supply its electricity.

The consortium claimed it had an initial €3.5bn available, but a “masterplan” would not be drawn up unless the initial plan received encouragement from the council because of the estimated cost to complete the planning process of €10m.

The group said 18 major international entertainment firms, including a number of major Hollywood studios, were in negotiations about funding the project, although they refused to name the backers.

Councillors voted to reject the plan in its current form after William Soffe, the county manager, told the meeting the proposal was ill-conceived and lacked credibility.

However, UEP chairman Owen O’Callaghan, a well-known property developer from Cork, said no new proposals would be brought before the council.

“That’s the end of the proposal for Dublin, and I’m afraid for Ireland because the location we selected is probably the best location in the country to guarantee such a proposal’s viability,” he said.

Mr O’Callaghan said he was very disappointed by the council’s decision and insisted the initial presentation was only meant to be a preliminary exploration of the proposals.

“The council possibly expected us to be making a presentation to them that would be associated with a full-scale planning application,” he said.

“This was a pre-planning meeting really, not even an application, because of the size of the project and because of the problems that it entails.

“We were hoping to achieve a guideline or a way forward from the council to enable us to go ahead and make a proper planning application with the assistance of the council.”

He insisted the group would not relaunch the proposals in Ireland.

“No, no, not anymore, not in Ireland, we’ll have to take it further afield if we proceed with it,” he added.

Mr Soffe, the County Manager, told councillors the project contravened government policy and planning guidelines, while it would also have adverse environmental, social and economic impacts.

“This development does not have any real credibility because its scale needs a level of patronage which is simply unachievable on an island off the coast of Europe,” he said.

“The infrastructure required could not be provided, water and drainage needs cannot be met, the transport capacity is impossible to supply.

The council rejected a motion put forward by councillor Anne Devitt calling for the authority to work with the consortium to bring forward a feasibility study within six months.

It instead adopted a motion proposed by Cathal Boland which declared the current proposal unacceptable.

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