Valuation Office defends €23m price put on greyhound stadium

Department of Education payed double estate agent valuation for Harold’s Cross land

The Department of Education bought the former Harold’s Cross  stadium from the Irish Greyhound Board for €23 million. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

The Department of Education bought the former Harold’s Cross stadium from the Irish Greyhound Board for €23 million. File photograph: James Crombie/Inpho.

 

The valuation commissioner has written to the Dáil’s Public Accounts Committee to defend the price his office put on the former greyhound stadium at Harold’s Cross in Dublin.

Minister for Education Joe McHugh last month defended a decision to pay €23 million for the site, as recommended by the State’s Valuation Office.

This was almost twice the €12 million estimate Bord na gCon, the Irish Greyhound Board, had received from an independent valuer ahead of selling the stadium.

Savills, the estate agent working for the board, had valued the land at €12 million if it was going to be used for housing and €6 million without any change to its zoning status as land for recreational amenities.

The board had estimated accumulated debts of more than €20 million at the time of the sale, which it was hoped the transaction would help to address.

The Department of Education purchased the land to be used as permanent accommodation for Shellybanks Educate Together school and the South City Educate Together secondary school.

In a letter to the committee, John O’Sullivan, the Commissioner of Valuation, said his office conducts its valuations “based entirely on the market evidence available”.

“No regard is had to the financial or other circumstances of either party and the office would have no knowledge of, nor make any enquiries in relation to, such matters,” he said.

“Similarly, the Valuation Office would have no regard to the motives or strategic interests of either party to the transaction.”

Mr O’Sullivan said the independent valuation is “based solely on market evidence and no other factors can be or would be taken into account”.

He said the site had been compared to four other substantial properties, including part of the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook which was sold off.

“As a centrally-located site in excess of six acres and just over 2km from St Stephen’s Green, the Harold’s Cross stadium site was considered to have value-related benefits in relation to its location and size and the use to which it was being put at the valuation date.”

Mr O’Sullivan said that “prices for centrally-located land with development potential in Dublin have continued to rise. Market commentary accords with this view”.

Originally opened in 1928, Harold’s Cross Greyhound Stadium acted as competition for cross-city rival Shelbourne Park, with major races regularly shifting between the venues before the former was shuttered and all racing activity moved to Shelbourne.

Broadband

Meanwhile, telecommunications companies Eir and Enet have agreed to appear before the committee next month in relation to a planned examination of the National Broadband Plan tender.

Wholesale broadband provider Siro, which has pulled out of the broadband tender process, has refused to attend.

In a letter to the committee, the chief executive of Siro John Keaney said that as a former bidder in the tender, the company would not be in a position to appear.

“As part of the communications protocol that Siro was required to agree to as a bidder, it is precluded from commenting on any aspect of the tender process, even after withdrawal,” he said.

“Even in the absence of such restrictions it is likely that most, if not all information that the committee might seek from Siro would be commercially sensitive information which Siro, as a participant in the very competitive telecommunications sector in Ireland, would be unwilling to discuss in the public domain.”