A large tract of Central Bank lands near the M50 motorway in south Dublin is set to be designated for social and affordable housing as the bank reviews the future of its high-security currency centre in Sandyford.
The 37-acre site, home of the national mint for decades, is in the sights of the Land Development Agency (LDA) as it prepares to submit a statutory list to the Government of public lands suitable for housing.
The agency, which was set up to amass and develop State property for housing, aims to build 8,000 new dwellings around the State over the next five years.
Members of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council have voted to provide residential and open space zoning on the Central Bank site, rejecting the proposal of planners in the council’s draft development plan to seek zoning for economic use. The council aims to adopt the 2022-2028 development plan next month.
“These lands should provide local affordable homes for families in the Dundrum, Stillorgan, Sandyford areas,” said Fine Gael councillor Barry Saul. “People who grew up in the locality should be afforded the ability to purchase a new affordable home in their locality.”
The Central Bank is listed as a relevant public body with relevant public land in the law underpinning the LDA. The bank is on a list of bodies whose lands must be built out with 100 per cent social and affordable housing if they come under LDA control, thereby limiting the price at which such property would transfer to the agency.
This has led to some disquiet behind the scenes. Certain figures in the Central Bank have argued privately that the institution should not be compelled to sell land for less than the market rate, saying such a move would infringe its independence of the Government.
The bank has ruled out a move in the short-term, saying in a statement that the timeframe would be “at least five to seven years” if change is recommended.
“We continue to conduct a strategic review into the future of the currency centre in Sandyford,” it said.
“If that strategic review recommends moving to another location, the Central Bank of Ireland will have due regard to the contents of the Land Development Agency Act and any planning regulations that are in place.”
The bank has been in Sandyford for more than 40 years. The currency centre is a storage and distribution facility for bulk cash services, necessitating permanent Defence Forces protection and extensive surveillance. It stopped printing banknotes there in 2019 as euro notes are imported, but retains the facility to mint euro coin at the site.