or is this genuine
Consortium buying land for â‚¬7bn theme park
A GIGANTIC theme park, twice the size of the Phoenix Park, is being planned for a site north of Dublin.
A consortium is trying to acquire 2,000 acres for the â‚¬7bn Disney-style development which it says would generate 25,000 jobs.
An intermediary for the investors is offering â‚¬115,000 per acre for agricultural land around Lusk - nearly 20 times the going price.
Dozens of farmers in the area have already been approached and home-owners are being promised double the value of their properties. Lusk is just a few miles north of Dublin airport. It is on a railway line and is close to the M1 motorway.
It is understood that if the plan goes ahead, it will be the single biggest construction project ever undertaken in the State.
The group behind the venture are believed to be a syndicate of prominent Irish and foreign investors. It is believed the same group was looking at a similar plan in Rathcoole earlier this year but could not get sufficient land mass.
Fingal County Council confirmed to the Irish Independent yesterday they had preliminary discussions with representatives from the group but no planning application has yet been lodged.
Peter Gillette, executive planning officer with the council, said a meeting took place on July 22 last at the council's headquarters between officials and a frontman who outlined the plan.
The meeting was attended by Mr Gillette, Willie Soffe the county manager and Michael Galvin council economic development officer.
Mr Gillette told the Irish Independent they were informed the group wanted to build a massive theme park, covered with glass, with rides, hotels, a giant lake for water sports, tourist accommodation and apartments on a 2,000 acre land bank in the council area.
It is also believed a hospital and a major conference centre are included in the proposal.
The council official said they were told that an investment of around seven billion dollars and 25,000 jobs was involved.
According to Mr Gillette, they were given an outline proposal and a further meeting may be held in coming weeks.
If such a project were to get the green light there would be major questions surrounding accessibility on the roads network and public transport as the infrastructure implications would be enormous.
It would also require massive rezoning of north Dublin and a variation of the county development plan as large tracts of land being examined are currently zoned agricultural.
It is understood the consortium is working on the basis of securing a three-year option on the land involved. This would give them the time to try to secure the necessary planning permission.
Local Fianna Fail TD Jim Glennon met with representatives of the developers after he heard about their plans.
"When I heard they were in the area, I was amazed at what I was hearing. They were talking about a 2,000 acre site to create a theme-park in what is essentially a rural area of Lusk.
"But the only reality is that someone is going around a small pocket of north Fingal offering silly money for options on land," Mr Glennon said.
A number of people have expressed interest in the deal and last week gave the developers their solicitors' details. Others have told them they would not be selling, whatever the price.
"We have three parcels of land, one with our house on it. When we were approached about a month ago, we told him we would not be selling the one with our home but were interested in selling the other two," one farmer said.
He promised him he would get â‚¬10.9m - â‚¬115,000 for each of his 95 acres.
"We heard nothing until Friday of last week when he rang us and said that the path was cleared and they were definitely going ahead with it. He then asked us for our solicitors' details but we haven't heard anything since."
The areas being targeted include Corduff, the Five Roads, Ballough, Ballyboughal and Wimbleton.
All inhabitants in a row of 11 houses at Coldcot Cottages in Ballough were approached and told they would carry out three evaluations of the houses.
"They said they would take the middle figure of the three evaluations and double it," one local, who was approached, said.
But sources said last night the plan could run into difficulties if some landowners did not agree to sell.
One source familiar with the plan said: "The scale of what is planned is enormous but the people behind it are deadly serious about going ahead with it."
It could take up to ten years to complete and would provide a massive boost for the Fingal area which has been among the worst hit by job losses.
Martha Kearns, Treacy Hogan
and Gene McKenna