A new valuation report for the site of a proposed super-prison at Thornton Hall said it sat on some of the most valuable agricultural land in Ireland.
The valuation put an estimated price of €6.5 million on the 164-acre property which was bought for almost €30 million in 2004 as part of plans for the relocation and subsequent redevelopment of the Mountjoy Prison campus in Dublin.
The Department of Justice said the revised valuation gave a fairer value for the property, saying there was “significant demand for agricultural land in Dublin” and that a prior estimate of €2.7 million was too low.
The valuation by Lisney said the average price paid per acre for farms in County Dublin was around €20,065 and the new value for Thornton Hall should better reflect that.
It also said that Thornton Hall itself — a late 19-century period property on the record of protected structures — had an estimated value of around €800,000.
The valuation report said that while the house had not been in regular use in recent years, it “appeared to have been generally well maintained”.
They compared it to the sale of five different homes in the general locality in north County Dublin, each of which had either sold or had an asking price of between €640,000 and €1.3 million. The report said these sales indicated values of anywhere between €2,785 and €3,880 per square metre of the property concerned.
It stated: “In our opinion, the fair value of Thornton Hall is in the order of €800,000. This is analysed at a capital value of approximately €2,666psm [per square metre].”
The report said the relatively large lot size and the “high quality” of the Thornton Hall lands along with good road access all needed to be considered.
It added: “In our opinion, the fair value of the subject land, as at the valuation date and subject to the caveats contained herein, is in the sum of €5,700,000. This reflects an overall rate of approximately €85,688 per hectare (€34,939 per acre).”
The valuation said that the property and lands combined could fetch around €6.5 million, or the equivalent of around €40,000 per acre.
A spokesman for the Department of Justice said the valuation covered three land folios and the period farmhouse at Thornton Hall.
The spokesman said the lands remained a “strategic state asset” and were available to the state for development.
He added: “It is considered prudent to retain a portion of it for potential prison development if needed in future. The availability of the remainder has been notified to Fingal County Council, the IDA, and the Land Development Agency.”