The Central Bank has decided to sell a 37-acre parcel of land near the M50 motorway in south Dublin that largely holds residential zoning, and to move its cash-management facility on the property to elsewhere in the greater area of the capital.
However, the Central Bank said that in a statement on its website that it is expected to take “at least seven years” before a new cash centre is delivered.
“Until such time, our operations will remain on the current site and we will continue to engage fully with our people as we move ahead with this important initiative,” it said.
The Central Bank is listed as a relevant public body with relevant public land in the law underpinning the Land Development Agency (LDA). The bank is on a list of bodies whose lands must be built out with 100 per cent social and affordable housing if they come under LDA control, thereby limiting the price at which such property would transfer to the agency.
“A strategic review of our cash centre operations has been ongoing and the Central Bank has decided to develop a new cash centre in an alternative and suitably smaller site in the Greater Dublin Area, and to dispose of its current site in Sandyford,” the bank said in the statement. “The Central Bank will be engaging with the Land Development Agency in respect of disposal of its current site.”
Much of the site has been zoned for residential and open space use under the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council 2022-2028 development plan. The land was also highlighted on a list of assets that could be available for social and affordable housing, after the Department of Housing directed every Government department last December to find public property suitable for the Coalition’s flagship Housing for All plan.
The bank has been in Sandyford for more than four decades. The currency centre is a storage and distribution facility for bulk cash services, necessitating permanent Defence Forces protection and extensive surveillance. It stopped printing banknotes there in 2019 as euro notes are imported, but retains the facility to mint euro coins at the site.
The Central Bank strategic review is understood to have concluded that the existing building was nearing the end of its useful life and that a new facility would need to be developed.
The bank said that the planned new cash centre will be a “significant investment” that “demonstrates” its commitment to support the ongoing availability of cash as a means of payment into the future.
The Government committed last week to drafting legislation to protect consumers’ and businesses’ access to cash, at a time when the pandemic has accelerated the use of digital payments globally and the remaining Irish banks are continuing to cut costs.
It was on foot of a recommendation in a Department of Finance banking review report, which said banks should look into setting up shared banking hubs in locations where all branches have closed and collaborate “wherever possible” to reduce expenses and improve customer services.
The aim of the proposed access-to-cash legislation is that banks “meet objective criteria to provide reasonable access to cash”, which would be defined following consultation with the Central Bank and “other stakeholders”, it said. In the meantime, banks should seek to preserve cash services at December 2022 levels.
The report also urged that a national payments strategy should be developed and completed in 2024, setting a roadmap for the future evolution of the entire payments system.