Hammerson holds fire on 1916 Rising site until next year

High-profile battle site between O’Connell and Moore streets has been centre of dispute

 

Developer Hammerson is likely to wait until next year to seek approval for revised plans for a high-profile site that includes the location of an Easter 1916 battlefield.

London-listed Hammerson, part-owner of Dublin shopping centres Dundrum Town Centre, the Ilac and Pavilions, said yesterday that net rental income from its Irish properties grew 4 per cent to €22.7 million in the first six months of the year.

Simon Betty, retail director for Ireland, predicted that Hammerson was unlikely to seek revised planning permission for a site between O’Connell and Moore streets in Dublin before next year.

The property has been at the centre of a dispute as it includes the site of one of the final battles of the Easter Rising, a focus of renewed interest since the State marked its centenary two years ago.

In spring the Court of Appeal overturned a declaration that buildings on and around Moore Street, which form part of the site, were national monuments, following a case taken by the State.

Mr Betty confirmed that Hammerson began talks with all the interested parties once the time for lodging a further appeal against this ruling had elapsed and the issue was no longer before the courts.

“We have made reasonably good progress,” he said. “There are still some decisions that we need to talk through and we are listening to all the views of the various interested parties.”

Dublin City Council extended existing planning permission for the site, but Mr Betty indicated that Hammerson regards this only as a fallback, and wants to make its own proposals for developing the site.

Relatives’ concerns

The original case that resulted in the Moore Street buildings being declared national monuments was brought by nominees of the 1916 Relatives’ Association. Hammerson has pledged to have appropriate regard for the site’s historic importance.

The London-listed property company said on Tuesday that its Irish assets produced strong income growth in the six months ended June 30th.

The company said that footfall – the number of customers passing through its properties – was down 3 per cent on last year.

Hammerson owns a stake in Dundrum Town Centre. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh
Hammerson owns a stake in Dundrum Town Centre. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Mr Betty attributed this mainly to extreme weather, including freezing conditions in the spring and the current heatwave, which he said made people less inclined to visit shopping centres.

However, he pointed out that the dip in visits had not hit spending in Hammerson’s Irish centres, which he said had held up well.

New tenants

During the period, cosmetics specialists Rituals and Therapie agreed to lease space in Dundrum Town Centre, the country’s biggest shopping centre. At the same location, Fallon & Byrne will anchor a new food hall, delicatessen and restaurant.

Smiggle, which sells stationery and other products for children, opened its fifth Irish shop in the Pavilions in Swords, Co Dublin.

Fast-food chain Five Guys, whose Irish franchise is owned by Brett, Ross and Derry Desmond, sons of businessman Dermot Desmond, and pizzeria Milano, will take up space in a new restaurant quarter in the northside centre.

Hammerson co-owns Dundrum with German insurer Allianz. It owns the Ilac in partnership with Irish Life, with which it is also a stakeholder in the Pavilions, along with property investor Iput.

Overall Hammerson, which has assets here, in the UK and on the Continent, said net rental income dipped 3 per cent in the first half of the year to £178.5 million (€200 million), while profit rose slightly to £120 million.