Laois County Council are to look at buying the Maltings site across from Portlaoise train station, to alleviate parking problems for commuters.
A ‘heads-up’ on the sale of the maltings, formerly owned by Minch Norton and now in the hands of NAMA, was given to the council at the July meeting by Cllr Willie Aird.
““Nama are getting rid of the Maltings. Here is an opportunity to take control, and solve the problem of parking at the station,” Cllr Aird told Director of Services for roads Kieran Kehoe.
“Thanks for the heads up. We have had numerous meetings with NAMA. I will immediately contact them,” Mr Kehoe said.
Efforts to acquire land owned by the Christian Brothers, on the eastern side of the station, considered most suitable, have been unsuccessful Cllr Aird said.
“The CBS land is not going to materialise. We as the leading authority can pursue the purchase of that site, this is a once off opportunity,” he said.
He noted that there is a safety issue on the site, which could be fixed by the council if they get the money to buy it.
“There are two cooling ponds that are dangerous,” he said.
The site has lain idle since 2007, when an examiner was apponted to the Maltings Development because debts had run to €23.5 million, owed to Anglo Irish Bank.
The 6.5 acre site was unsuccessfully put up for sale at a price of €25 million in 2008, with planning for a shopping centre, offices and a multi storey carpark in 2008.
It was then taken into the NAMA property portfolio.
While not yet advertised as for sale, Cllr Aird is certain it soon will be.
“I have been told it is next on the list, it is definitely coming, but the price won’t be anything like €25 million,”he said.
A spokesperson for Iarnród Eireann says they would support Laois County Council.
“Iarnród Éireann acknowleges that the current car parking facility at Portlaoise Station does not meet demand. We would be supportive of the local authority developing additional car parking at this site,” they said.
Commuters have been complaining of a lack of parking spaces for many years at Portlaoise station, which has 110 spaces.