Central Bank in talks with Land Development Agency on plan to sell huge Sandyford ‘mint’ site

The Central Bank and the Land Development Agency (LDA) are facing off over what should happen to a parcel of development land in south Dublin potentially worth more than €70m.

hile the bank intends to sell the land, Government housing policy means it could be offered just a nominal fee plus an alternative state-owned parcel of land elsewhere for the Sandyford site.

The two sides are engaged in talks over the future of the CBI’s currency centre in Sandyford, a 37-acre campus that has been the home of Ireland’s national mint since 1970.

The CBI decided in December to sell the site to make “a significant financial contribution” to the acquisition and development of a new home for its physical currency operations, according to Central Bank Commission minutes published on Tuesday.

But the LDA, which is empowered to unlock State land for desperately needed housing, has first refusal. The similar-sized Glass Bottle Site closer to Dublin city is being developed as 3,800 homes.

While the LDA must buy such sites at a market rate, because the land will be used to build only social and affordable housing the likely price achievable is far lower than if it were sold for private development.

The CBI, as part of a strategic review last year, retained external valuers to estimate the parcel’s value as part of an assessment to decide whether to redevelop the currency centre or move it to a new, cheaper location.

The size and location of the site means it will be highly prized for housing. The currency centre sits in a prime residential district just inside the M50 motorway beside the Irish Management Institute (IMI) college campus, close to Dundrum Town Centre and largely surrounded by detached and semi-detached suburban housing.

Planners in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council voted last year to zone the campus for residential and open space zoning, overruling planners’ efforts to retain it for economic use.

Discussions between the CBI and LDA are at an early stage, but the currency centre is understood to be exactly the kind of site the LDA is looking for.

The CBI would use the proceeds from any sale to develop a new centre elsewhere in the capital, according to the Commission minutes.

The LDA is currently completing a project to map all relevant State lands within urban areas that are suitable for housing. A report is due to go to Housing Minister Darragh O’Brien in March, after which he can order the transfer of land to the agency for development.

The Central Bank is among a list of state bodies whose land must be used for social and affordable housing, if it is no longer required for the agency’s needs.

The Central Bank stopped printing the Irish version of the euro here in 2019 but still mints coins and uses the high-security campus, which is under 24-hour military and security protection, as a
distribution centre for euro notes.

A CBI spokesperson said a move to a new centre will take seven years. It’s likely a new, secure facility will have to be operational before the current site can be decommissioned.

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