City council to compel developer to rebuild convent


Dublin City Council is to require a property developer to rebuild the former Presentation Convent in Terenure following its illegal demolition last month at a time when the council was considering proposals to make it a protected structure.

Under enforcement proceedings issued under Section 151 of the 2000 Planning Act, Kimpton Vale Ltd has been told to stop unauthorised work on the site and reinstate the building to the the satisfaction of the council's planning department.

When the three-acre site on Terenure Road West was offered for sale by public tender last April, estate agents GVA Donal Ó Buachalla described the mid-19th century convent building with 21 bedrooms as being "in good condition throughout".

Kimpton Vale Ltd, which acquired the property for more than €15 million as an infill development opportunity, demolished the building in November - just weeks after the council began to consider adding it to the record of protected structures.

The proposal to protect it had been made by Cllr John Gallagher (Labour) on October 18th. Under Section 57 of the 2000 Planning Act, the demolition of any element of a protected structure or a proposed protected structure is prohibited.

Bulldozers moved in to demolish the convent at 7am on Saturday, November 4th. When a dangerous buildings officer arrived at 9.30am, so much of it was gone that he agreed the remainder had to be demolished on public safety grounds.

Mary Upton TD (Labour, Dublin South Central), who alerted council officials to the demolition, last night welcomed the council's confirmation that it was taking enforcement action to have "this charming, historic building" reinstated.

"I am absolutely delighted that council planning enforcement officers are grasping the nettle," she said.

Kimpton Vale Ltd is run by Laurence Keegan, of Parkmore House, Auburn Drive, Castleknock. Lido Construction Ltd, a company of which he was previously a director, built housing schemes in Castleknock and Templeogue in Dublin and Co Wicklow.

In 2002, Lido (which had changed its name to Torose Construction Ltd) made a settlement of almost €7 million with the Revenue for under-declaring corporation tax and VAT.

It was one of the largest such settlements on record.

Mr Keegan, who made a personal settlement of more than €80,000 for under-declaring income tax, was restricted from acting as a director for five years. Currently company secretary of Kimpton Vale Ltd, he could not be contacted for comment last night.

Under the current Dublin City Development Plan, the Presentation Convent site - which largely comprises former school playing fields - is zoned to protect existing environmental amenities in any future use of the land in question.

Development opportunities permitted or "open for consideration" under this zoning include residential, hotel, medical and educational. It is thought that the main reason for demolishing the convent was to improve access to the rear of the site.

In 1999 after hotelier and developer Noel O'Callaghan illegally demolished the listed Archer's garage on Fenian Street, off Merrion Square, he was required by the city council to reinstate the building.