The Maltings, Portlaoise.
The way has been cleared for the extensive development of a landmark site in Portlaoise town centre that was the subject of an €84 million plan during the property boom.
The Maltings Site at Harpur’s Lane, Portlaoise has been rezoned by Laois County Council in the Draft Portlaoise Local Area Plan from Residential to Mixed Use to open up the opportunities for the owners to develop on the site.
Brothers, Pat and Sean Flanagan, directors of Owenass Developments Ireland Limited, who built Esker Hills and Bellingham estates in Portlaoise, now own The Maltings Site.
In their submission made on the Draft Local Area Plan, Mr Pat Flanagan said plans may be in the pipeline to develop housing and offices at the landmark site.
The Council had designated The Maltings as an Opportunity Site.
Mr Flanagan outlined that "recognising the site as an 'Opportunity Site', while restricting the uses of this key site is pointless'.
He added that it "deprives" the town of the variety of uses including offices to limit it as residential and suggested that "satellite offices within 45 minutes of Heuston Station" could have potential on the site or "indigenous industry to avail of a car free lifestyle, reasonable and available accommodation".
Chief Executive, John Mulholland, agreed that it was ‘too restrictive’ in terms of delivering a mixed use development on the site.
Mr Mulholland stated that the site should provide a minimum set amount of housing units in order to achieve the strategic outcomes of the National Planning Framework and decided that 70 percent of the site be used for housing.
It was suggested that the remainder of the site should have a diversity of uses for both day and evening time with high levels of accessibility, including pedestrian, cyclists and public transport.
Compatible uses within this new zoning include residential, community buildings, civic buildings, entertainment, hotels, leisure and recreation, offices, professional / specialist services, etc.
The Council will ensure that any development proposed is in the interests of proper planning and sustainable development, and serves to reinforce the vitality and viability of town centres, whilst meeting the needs of its community and surrounding hinterland.
A previous builder had planned a nine story development in 2006, but the plans fell through due to the economic crash. The current owners purchased the site from the receiver at a depressed price. As a result, Mr Flanagan said the company feel certain that they can offer would-be purchasers very good value for money.
An asking price of €25 million was put on the site in 2008 as a forced sale. Maryborough Construction Holdings Ltd had already drawn down €23.5 million of a €84.5 million loan advanced by Anglo Irish Bank to purchase and develop the site.