Role of council in purchasing site for review

Wed, Jun 6, 2012, 01:00

Minister for the Environment Phil Hogan has extended a review into the purchase of a site in Greystones to include Wicklow County Council’s role in it. Last August the council paid some €3 million for a 3.5-acre site which has been valued at a fraction of that amount.

The council had issued a compulsory purchase order for the site at Charlesland in 2004 to use for social housing. The sale was delayed due to disagreements over its value and the death of the landowners.

The independent review by a senior counsel will concern the council’s administration of the compulsory purchase order.

Wicklow county manager Eddie Sheehy was “satisfied” the acquisition was “handled at all times in an entirely appropriate and professional manner”, he wrote in a letter to councillors on Friday. The review will look into concerns of a number of Wicklow councillors into the administration of the order by the council.

Last year, councillors Barry Nevin (Labour) and Tommy Cullen (Independent) reported to the Dáil Public Accounts Committee on council files which indicated some of the site was prone to flooding and that it was valued at less than €700,000 in 2010. Earlier this year, the first phase of the independent review began into the sanctioning of a €5 million loan for the land to the council in 2009 which was never drawn down.