A stable environment for a waterside development

THE spread of new housing, high land values and burgeoning demand have prompted Hop Island equestrian centre to relocate.

The period 1760s house and 2.7 acres of land in Cork’s estuarine Rochestown hold the promise of a super living environment, but it is almost a racing certainty that developers will out-bid even the most well-heeled private home hunters for the picturesque waterside site.

The centre was briefly on the market back in 1999, as owners Liam and Mary O’Driscoll sought to move the riding centre to another location, but an agreed sale at the time fell through. In the meantime, trekking routes in the area are fast disappearing and the roads are becoming too busy to cross.

The centre was pitched at £1.5 million in 1999; now it’s back on the market guided at €3 million by Barry Smith of James Coughlan & Associates auctioneers.

What it eventually sells for is anyone’s guess, depending on the scale of development which will be allowed on the wooded lands around the very old house.

Just up-river, McCarthy Developments’ contemporary apartments scheme, Harty’s Quay, gives one vision of possibilities. Down-river at Horsehead House in Passage West the development of a clutch of large detached €1.2 to €1.5 million homes around a period home offers another scenario. But whatever is built here will carry a price premium.

Then again, it is a site so attractive in its own right that it could lure a very wealthy private buyer, keen to create a magnificent family home, working perhaps around and with the current old and unlisted residence. Modern mansions on the Bandon road, in Ovens and Upton, up to and over 10,000 sq ft are being built and are worth between €3 to over €10 million, and often the source of the personal wealth behind these whoppers is property itself.

What Hop Island has going for it, first and foremost, is its water aspect, four or five miles from the city centre, a couple of miles from Douglas and off the south city ring road, and hundreds and hundreds of feet of direct frontage to the tidal reaches.

The vendors have kept a speedboat here and have used it to get up to the city centre (tides permitting, as mud flats are revealed at low tide) and have water ski-ed from their garden boundary.

At present, the house has three reception rooms, a huge high-ceilinged hall, a front door with fanlight and four bedrooms. The annex behind is separated out into two apartments.

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