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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Ballsbridge Nimbies Hit the Jackpot from Lansdowne Stadium Development

An impression of the redeveloped Lansdowne Road Stadium. It will have the same capacity - 50,000 - as the existing facility. All residents are thought to have been born after 1876 when rugby football began to be played at Lansdowne Road.

The NIMBY (Not-In-My-Backyard) citizen is a very common feature these days and the problem with the inevitable objections and protests to every significant project is that it's very difficult to pluck the small number of genuine cases from the usual reaction that is motivated by self-interest.

Most of us simply want to have our cake and eat it.

Last month, Tánaiste (Deputy Prime Minister) Michael McDowell said that his Progressive Democrats party will not agree to participate in Government unless plans to build a waste incinerator in his constituency are scrapped. McDowell represents Dublin South-East, which includes the Lansdowne Road area.

The Minister for the Environment Dick Roche opposes the building of an incinerator in Wicklow, south of Dublin. When residents of North Dublin, objected to plans to build a prison in their area, McDowell told them where to get off.

Residents in Ballsbridge in South Dublin where some of the highest priced houses in Ireland are located, have made the biggest gains from the runaway house price inflation in the past decade. Even the most innocuous dwelling would command a huge Celtic Tiger premium.

In 2004, the Irish Government announced that it would provide up to €191m in public funds for the redevelopment of the Stadium at Lansdowne Road, Ballsbridge, which is owned by the Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU). Rugby football has been played at Lansdowne Road, since December 1876

In March, it was reported that the IRFU had bought two houses on Lansdowne Road owned by objectors to the planned 50,000-seater stadium. The sales were estimated to have raised between €5 million to €7 million for each property.

On Tuesday this week, it was reported that the final barriers to the redevelopment of Lansdowne Road had been cleared following the settlement of a dispute with local residents and councillors.

One dispute centred on a half-acre strip of council land along the banks of the River Dodder that the developers want to use as part of the project. Under an agreed deal, the developers have agreed to pay €120,000 each to 14 local families and €32,500 each to another eight.

A further €500,000 is being provided as a general fund for other affected households, while the developers have also agreed to fund improvements works along the River Dodder and to pay €100,000-a-year for the upkeep of the area.

It pays to live in a wealthy area!

It's not clear how much of the compensation will come from public funds. However, as with farmers who depend on public subsidies for most of their income and then become multimillionaires when they sell land for development, it's likely a win-win situation as the location in Ballsbridge is still a trump card, whether adjacent to the Stadium or not.

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