Hammerson plans to build 100 homes at Dundrum site

Plan for location includes expansion into residential building by London-listed company

Hammerson operates Dundrum Town Centre, the country’s biggest shopping mall. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

Hammerson operates Dundrum Town Centre, the country’s biggest shopping mall. Photograph: Matt Kavanagh

 

Dundrum Town Centre co-owner Hammerson is in talks with planners about proposals to build 100 homes, and possibly a hotel, on a neighbouring site in the south Dublin suburb.

The news came as UK operator Hammerson reported that net rental income from its Irish properties topped €46 million last year. The London-listed company has been planning to redevelop the site in a move that would include an expansion into residential building.

Simon Betty, Hammerson’s director of retail in Ireland, said on Monday that the company was in pre-application talks with planners in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council on proposals for the site that include 100 homes, and possibly a hotel.

The talks indicate that it could make a full application shortly. Pre-application is the stage before a builder formally seeks permission for a project under the strategic housing initiative, the fast-track system for developments made up of 100 or more new dwellings.

Mr Betty indicated that the process was moving relatively quickly. “We are in pre-planning discussions with Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown,” he said. “The plans seem to have been well received.”

Fast-track housing applications

Once the pre-application stage is complete, fast-track housing applications go straight to An Bord Pleanála, which then has up to 16 weeks to decide whether or not to allow the development.

Hammerson operates Dundrum Town Centre, the country’s biggest shopping mall, which it co-owns with French insurer Allianz. The listed company also owns the Ilac in Dublin city centre in partnership with Irish Life, with which it is also a stakeholder in the Pavilions in Swords, Co Dublin, along with property investor Iput.

In addition, Hammerson controls Dublin central, a site between O’Connell Street and Moore Street that includes the location of a 1916 battlefield.

Mr Betty said the group was in talks with various stakeholders including relatives of those who fought in the 1916 Rising, about the site’s future.

The group began discussions last year after the Court of Appeal overturned an earlier ruling that buildings on and around Moore Street that formed part of the site were national monuments because of their link to the Rising.

Mr Betty did not say when Hammerson would seek planning permission for the site. “This is a complicated piece of urban regeneration and we’d rather take our time than rush through the planning process,” he said.

Hammerson said that net rental income from its Irish shopping centres grew 1.4 per cent last year to £40.4 million sterling (€46.6 million).

The group noted that its properties here were 99 per cent full last year and that demand for space remained strong. It signed deals with new tenants in 2018 representing £2.6 million of yearly rental income.

River Island

These included Rituals and Therapie in Dundrum and clothes retailer River Island and stationer Smiggle in the Pavilions.

Hammerson owns and runs shopping centres in Ireland, Britain and France. Profits at the company dipped 2.4 per cent last year to £240.3 million, figures released on Monsy show. The value of its assets fell last year to £9.9 billion from £10.6 billion.

The group sold £570 million worth of properties last year. Chief executive David Atkinssaid it would target £500 million this year.

It is also seeking to cut its net debt to £3 billion this year from £3.4 billion at the end of 2018, under pressure from an activist investor.

Mr Atkins described 2018 as tough, particularly in the UK. “Tenant failures, the structural shift in retail and a more considered consumer created a difficult operating environment, putting pressure on property values,” he said.