The owner of the Shelbourne Park greyhound racing track wants to develop the Dublin 4 site for housing, in a move that potentially threatens the future of greyhound racing in the capital.
The push to rezone the site of the track by Pembroke Estates Management comes despite plans by Greyhound Racing Ireland, the State body that runs the industry here, to start work next year on a "state-of-the-art investment" in the Shelbourne Park stadium and track.
Following the 2017 closure of the Harold's Cross stadium, the development of housing at Shelbourne Park could spell the end of greyhound racing in Dublin. Although the Covid-19 pandemic disrupted racing, the Shelbourne Park stadium near Ringsend is crucial for Greyhound Racing Ireland's finances in ordinary times.
Pembroke Estates Management, controlled by Aline Finnegan, has urged Dublin City Council to assign residential zoning on the 5.5 acres (about 2.2 hectares) it owns in the stadium grounds which comprises the race track. The stadium building on the adjoining 2 acres is owned by a Greyhound Racing Ireland subsidiary.
“The lands have the potential to accommodate over 750 residential units in a mixed-tenure development which could provide a mix of social [and] affordable units, build-to-rent, build-for-sale and cost-rental apartment units,” said a planning submission to the council on behalf of Pembroke Estates from Finnegan Menton estate agents.
“The current zoning as open space/amenity provides no benefit to the public as the lands are used for the racing of greyhounds with no access for members of the public outside of race nights.”
The company also called for a pedestrian bridge to be built across the river Dodder to provide a new connection between the site and Ringsend.
The directors of Pembroke Estates Management include auctioneer Iain Finnegan, also a Finnegan Menton director. Another Finnegan Menton director, Nicholas Corson, signed the submission. He did not return calls.
Rásaíocht Con Éireann (RCÉ), the formal name for Greyhound Racing Ireland, said it was aware of Pembroke’s submission. “While the land on which the track is situated is the subject of a long-term lease, RCÉ retains full ownership over Shelbourne Park stadium which is a tremendous recreational asset to the people of Dublin and rural Ireland alike,” it said.
Asked whether the move cast doubt over the sport in Dublin, the body insisted it was “committed to the long-term future and development” of greyhound racing and “vitally important community recreational facilities” at the stadium.
The body’s board unanimously agreed in 2021 on “capital improvements” to enhance the stadium and track. “Plans and designs for this state-of-the-art investment are under way. Works are expected to commence in early 2023,” the body said.