Dún Laoghaire innovation hub plans scrapped over licensing issues

In November 2017, developer Philip Gannon announced plans to spend €20m on creating the Harbour Innovation Campus in the coastal Dublin town of Dún Laoghaire. The 75,000 sq ft space was set to host both local and international companies on site, with potential to hold up to 1,000 staff from an array of start-ups.

Today (30 October), it emerged that the plans to transform the former ferry terminal into one of Europe’s largest technology campuses have now been scrapped. While Gannon had procured planning permission two months ago, he has now terminated the lease.

It emerged that the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company (DLHC) – which had moved under the control of Dún Laoghaire County Council last month – had not secured a foreshore licence to lease the terminal, despite listing it for lease two years ago. The building has been empty since Stena Line stopped its ferry service in the town in 2014.

A disappointing outcome

Gannon said: “It is very disappointing to be told that seven weeks after receiving planning permission, the landlord does not actually have any legal right to lease the building.

“You would think that Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company would have taken care of such basic requirements before advertising the property in the first place. When I was told that the chief executive of DLHC was still trying to obtain the foreshore licence, I decided to cut my losses and pull the plug on Dún Laoghaire. I am now looking at other buildings in and around Dublin.”

Gannon added that the campus would have brought an additional €6m to the town annually, as well as almost €15m in rent and rates to the local county council over the next decade.

In October 2016, the town launched Digital Dún Laoghaire, a cluster of digital and tech start-ups and entrepreneurs. This initiative aims to put the town on the map as a centre of excellence for digital business.

Dún Laoghaire coastline. Image: William Murphy/Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0)

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