Sales of development land reached €1.2bn in 2019

Deals for residential sites accounted for 70% of development land sales last year

Some €1.2 billion worth of development land was sold across the greater Dublin area and the regional centres of Cork, Limerick and Galway in 2019.

That’s according to the latest research on the sector from agent Cushman & Wakefield.

Notable transactions in 2019 included the €140 million sale of DIT's Kevin Street campus to developer Shane Whelan's Westridge Real Estate and the sale for €127 million of the 73-acre Project Eden residential site at Cherrywood in south Dublin to Lone Star and Quintain.

All told, the sale of residential development sites accounted for 70 per cent of development land deals, or €810 million of total turnover, in 2019. Residential development sales comprised eight of the 10 most valuable deals.

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Top residential transactions in 2019 included the aforementioned Project Eden, the sale by the GAA of the Drumcondra portfolio comprising 19 acres of lands at the former Holy Cross seminary to Hines for €105 million, and the Jesuit order's sale of 10 acres at its Milltown campus to Ardstone Capital for €65 million.

But while the year saw several high-profile deals taking place, Cushman & Wakefield notes that the overall number of transactions dropped from the 203 recorded in 2018 to 125 in 2019. The decline in transactions was most prevalent in the sub-€ 5 million price bracket, where the number of sales fell 41 per cent year-on-year.

An analysis of sites sold by location reveals Dublin absorbed the vast majority of turnover in 2019, accounting for €823 million worth, or 71 per cent, of capital spend. The capital and its neighbouring counties of Kildare, Meath and Wicklow together accounted for €976 million of the overall value transacted in the period.

Most active

Outside of Dublin, Cork continues to be the most active regional market. The city recorded about €133 million worth of development land spend last year, representing an annual uplift of 26 per cent from 2018, when €106 million transacted there.

Both the Galway and Limerick development land markets experienced an uptick in the value of transactions recorded in the year. A total of €54 million transacted across the two regional markets, compared with just € 34 million over the same period in 2018.

Commenting on the figures, John Donegan of Cushman & Wakefield's development land division said: "The development land market was strong once again in 2019, with transaction levels exceeding € 1 billion for a second consecutive year. Sentiment amongst purchasers remains robust despite some political uncertainty and the continuing Brexit fallout. A number of large office and residential sites in the first quarter will provide an early test for the strength of the market."

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan is Acting Property Editor of The Irish Times