Central Bank asks council to maintain residential zoning at Sandyford currency centre

Submission raises the prospect of part or all of its 37-acre site being sold for housing

File image showing production of euro coins by the Central Bank of Ireland. Photograph: Mac Innes

File image showing production of euro coins by the Central Bank of Ireland. Photograph: Mac Innes

 

The Central Bank has asked Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown council to maintain residential zoning on lands at its high-security currency centre at Sandyford in south Dublin, in a move that signals the property may be sold.

A submission from the Central Bank on the council’s draft development plan for 2022-2028 raises the prospect of part or all of its 37-acre site near the M50 motorway being sold for residential development after a strategic review of the currency centre operation.

“The lands are particularly suitable for residential use and assist [the council] in achieving a number of objectives set out in national and regional strategies,” the bank has told the council.

The Central Bank has been in Sandyford for more than 40 years. The currency centre is storage and distribution facility for bulk cash services, necessitating permanent Defence Forces protection and extensive surveillance.

The bank stopped printing banknotes in 2019 as euro notes are imported for circulation in the State but it retains the facility to mint euro coin at the site.

The submission for the bank by planning consultants John Spain Associates said two options were emerging in a strategic review of the currency centre that is due to complete next year: either a new facility on a portion of the lands, or a new facility on different lands. “In this respect, a significant portion or all of the land may become available.”

In reply to questions, the bank said it was committed to maintaining cash as a form of payment. The review was based on the future needs of the national cash cycle, it added.

“Over the past number of years, operational activity in the currency centre has been impacted, by a reduction in demand for cash, consolidation and rationalisation within the national cash supply chain.”

The Central Bank has disposed of property before. It realised some €67 million from the 2017 sale of its former headquarters at Dame Street and College Green buildings to Hines and Peterson Group (Hong Kong) when it moved to North Wall Quay in Dublin’s docklands.

The Sandyford lands under the council’s current development plan have residential zoning. However, the draft plan proposes a change to economic zoning.

The bank’s submission said: “Given the possibility that less lands will be required for a new facility, or that a new facility may not be on the subject lands be on other lands, it is respectfully submitted that retention of residential zoning objective provides for an appropriate potential future use of part or all of the lands.”

It added: “The predominant surrounding land use comprises residential use, schools and other supporting facilities, with the subject lands representing a significant potential infill site.

“The lands are well served by, amenities, services, public transport, walking and cycling facilities and present an opportunity to increase the provision of residential use in the area in a sustainable and compact manner to support the existing significant employment uses in Sandyford.”

The bank accepted the lands have not been made available for residential use but said that was is due to security measures.

The currency centre did not readily fall within the definition of other land uses. But the bank said such operations may be considered under “light industrial” use, which was open for consideration under the residential zoning objective.

“The extent of the lands form a security buffer, enables surveillance, and serve a very clear and critically important purpose associated with the security measures of the current operations and existing facilities.”