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Published in Construction on 06/01/2017

Top Construction & Property Stories: Your 10 at 10

#10at10 #newsroundup

CNI Editor reports

Some of the most noteworthy construction stories from the last week, as compiled by the team at Construction Network Ireland.

(Have a story you think should be covered? Contact editor@constructionnetworkireland.com)

1.

Seán Mulryan’s Ballymore has exited NAMA following repayment of loans totalling €3.2 billion since 2010, according to a recent report in the Irish Times.

Ballymore was one of the largest entities in NAMA, and almost certainly the largest to exit NAMA successfully. The company, and Mulryan himself does so with reputation not only intact but most likely even better than when it went in.

As we reported in October, Ballymore has plans for a €700 million development in the Dockland’s known as Dublin Landings and is also building out developments in Kildare and North Dublin.

It seems that Ballymore’s connection with NAMA will also continue, though now as a partner rather than as a client – the company is expected to work with the agency to build houses on NAMA sites in Dublin, Kildare & Wicklow.

You may also be interested in Ballymore Awarded Worlds Best Website Accolade 

2.

Deaths from asbestos among construction workers are expected to reach a record high over the next 3 years according to the Health & Safety Authority (HSA).

Reports of asbestos being discovered during building renovations has risen significantly over the last 10 to 15 years, a combination of a government scheme to remove asbestos from schools, an increase in refurbishment projects of older properties, and a realisation by workers that ‘simply ignoring it’ is not safe or smart.

There is no cure for mesothelioma, a rare but aggressive form of cancer which is the result of exposure to asbestos. It is expected that by 2020 there will be almost 70 deaths from the disease annually in Ireland.

3.

Irish founded company WElink has signed contracts worth €2.9 billion in construction in the UK over the next five years.

The company is tasked with building more than 25,000 energy-efficient modular homes, five new factories and an R&D centre in the UK.

According to the Irish Independent, WElink’s main partner is China National Buildings Material Ltd, a state owned Chinese company worth an estimated €80 billion.

The move into the UK is being undertaken in conjunction with Your Housing Group (YHG) one of the largest providers of social and affordable housing in the UK.

4.

Carlisle Trust Ltd., the property group founded by John Byrne, paid dividends of €6 million in 2015 according to figures lodged with the Companies Office.

Byrne, originally from Co. Kerry made his money building property around Dublin and the firm still earns significant income from properties leased to the state.

While he was a successful developer in Ireland before that was ‘a thing’, he rose to prominence at the Moriarty Tribunal, where he denied giving former Taoiseach Charles Haughey “a penny in his life”.

Despite this assertion lawyers for the Tribunal showed that £300,000 linked to him ended up in accounts used by Haughey. Byrne died in 2013 in his 94th year.

5.

Growth in Irish manufacturing rose to it’s highest point in 17 months according to the Investec Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index.

While manufacturing growth dipped for a few months around the Brexit referendum results they improved in December, the third month running, to 55.7 from 53.7 in November.

This is the 43rd consecutive month that the survey has found growth rather than contraction in the Irish manufacuring industry, of which construction materials make up a significant proportion.

6.

Construction is second only to agriculture for workplace deaths in 2016, although the number of fatalities in construction fell from 11 in 2015 to 9 in 2016, according to the latest report from the Health and Safety Authority (HSA).

Of the 44 work related deaths in 2016, the majority (30) involved men between the ages of 25 and 65 years old.

7.

There looks to be yet another hotel popping up in the vicinity of Dublin Airport. According to the Irish Independent, a UK company with ties to Carlton Hotels plans to build a five-storey, 100-bedroom hotel adjacent to the existing Carlton hotel close to the airport.

It is likely that the new property will be branded seperately and aimed at a differnet price-point to the existing 4 star Carlton Hotel.

The news comes on top of expansion and development plans on a number of sites both on the Dublin Airport campus, and close by. The largest will be DAA’s plan to build a 402 bedroom property connected to Terminal 2.

8.

Planning permission has been made for the demolition of the Tivoli Theatre on Dublin’s Francis St, to be replaced by a 298 bedroom hotel.

The theatre currently has capacity for almost 500 people, has a downstairs venue with capacity for 1,200 people, and can take up to 100 cars.

The planning application includes the retention of the facade of the theatre, but not the incorporation of a theatre space.

Early soundings from Dublin City Council are that any application which doesn’t retain some aspect of arts space would not be looked on favourably.

9.

Two years on from the awarding of €20 million in state funding for the Cork Events Centre and a year on from Taoiseach Enda Kenny turning the sod, there still seems to be slow progress on the former Beamish & Crawford site in Cork.

The Irish Examiner reports that the former head of Beamish & Crawford Alf Smiddy has joined the chorus of questions surrounding the project, saying that he is “weary of the general speculation and obfuscation, and deeply frustrated that the full plans have not been announced”, going so far as to question whether the money would be better allocated to social housing and road infrastructure in Cork.

It is reported that Cork City Council has given developers until the end of this month to finish the internal designs, finalise the costings, and brief councillors on the progress, or lack thereof.

And finally…

10.

When is ‘rapid build’, not actually ‘rapid build’?

According to a report on Monday in the Irish Times just 22 modular homes were built in 2016, with a further 130 under construction.

This was despite Minister for Housing Simon Coveney assuring the public that 300 would be built or under construction in the same time period.

Rapid-build? More like ‘caught rapid’.