Around the block: Councillors call for local authority to purchase historic gardens from Nama

Fernhill House and gardens: Photograph: © Jonathan Hession

Fernhill House and gardens: Photograph: © Jonathan Hession

Thu, Apr 3, 2014, 00:00

A motion calling on Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council to buy the historic Fernhill House and gardens at the foot of the Dublin Mountains has been tabled for debate by councillors at a meeting later this month.

Located 11km south of Dublin on the Enniskerry Road between Sandyford and Stepaside, Fernhill gardens were begun in the early 19th century and enlarged and developed by their owners over the decades, including the Walker family who owned the property from 1934 onwards.

The property was famously purchased by developer David Arnold for approximately €45 million in 2008 and was subsequently taken over by Nama. It is expected to come to market next week through Colliers at a guide price of €5 million.

The gardens contain rare collections of plants, trees and shrubs, including specimen rhododendrons and magnolias. The house itself was first built in 1723.

The site contains a total of 84 acres, about 45 of which are wooded, and the property is close to housing developments at Park View, Belarmine and Aiken’s Village. It had been open to the public but has been closed for the past few years.

Local councillor Lettie McCarthy (Lab), who tabled the motion for the property to be purchased, said the gardens were ideally placed for residents in the area.

“It would be an investment and would complement the other parks owned by the council,” she said. “It is a national treasure and should be open to the public.”

Councillor Victor Boyhan (Ind), who is also a landscape gardener, said Fernhill’s rare collection of plants, trees and shrubs should be protected. He added that the area had been identified as in need of a public park based on the high density housing developed locally over the past 10 years.

He called on the council to investigate all options with Nama to acquire Fernhill, including a land swap.

A spokesman for the council said they would not be commenting at this stage.