Council rejects €7bn Vega City project

THE promoters of the Vega City theme park planned for North Dublin will seek to locate it abroad.

The €7 billion proposal was rejected by a decisive majority of Fingal councillors last night as unacceptable in its present form.

In the wake of the decision, the backers, Universal Entertainment Partners (UEP), expressed disappointment at the outcome. UEP chairman, Cork developer Owen O'Callaghan, said the company would not look at other locations in Europe.

UEP had made what O'Callaghan said was a "very early planning presentation" but had refused to identify its major backers and divulged little information not already in the public domain. Council officials and many councillors criticised the vagueness of the plan which, they said, gave insufficient information.

The €7bn project envisaged three theme parks, 300,000 sq m of retail space, 14 hotels and 10,000 holiday apartments. The promoters claimed it could attract 37 million visitors by 2014 and employ up to 65,000 people. It would be linked to Dublin Airport by monorail.

UEP's Louis Maguire told the council it sought "a simple response to agree in principle that this is a project that should be looked at".

Mr O'Callaghan said he realised there were huge difficulties with planning, the development plan and strategies.

He added that if the council felt it could not be done, "we will fold our tent and go away".

Fingal County manager William Soffe and chief planner David O'Connor said the proposal lacked credibility. They said the massive development would dwarf towns like Swords or Balbriggan, breach all regulations and development plans, and put intolerable pressure on waste, water and transport infrastructure.

Mr Soffe said he did not find the estimate of 18 million Irish visitors over 10 years as credible. "That is 75,000 people there every day. That is an All-Ireland football final every day."

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