Dunnes Stores has won a High Court order halting moves to place a closed shopping centre building in Limerick city centre on an official register for vacant sites.
The site at Sarsfield Street has been valued by an estate agent at €3m and inclusion on the register means an owner must pay a 3pc penalty levy on market value.
The court granted Dunnes Stores (Limerick) Ltd and Dunnes Stores Unlimited Company a stay on Bord Pleanála’s determination of an appeal of the council’s decision to place the property on the Vacant Sites Register under the Urban Regeneration and Housing Act 2015.
Dunnes, which rejected a €3m offer for it on behalf of the council, says the council failed to give adequate reasons for its decision to declare it a vacant site. It was made in bad faith and for an ulterior and/or improper purpose, it says.
It says that purpose was to acquire the property to develop it as a civic and cultural amenity centre as part of the council’s economic and spatial strategy in its 2010-16 development plan.
The council, which says the site is under-utilised at this key prominent location and is detracting from the character of the area, opposed the Dunnes’ application.
The Sarsfield Street centre was closed by Dunnes in 2008 but it continued to be maintained, the court heard.
In 2010, the property was zoned under the Limerick City Development Plan 2010 for high-end retailing and a range of other supporting retail uses.
In March 2013, the council served a notice that it was going to include the property on the Derelict Sites Act. Dunnes said it was not derelict.
Following correspondence between the parties, the site was not placed on the derelict sites register.
But county and city councillors then put a new designation on the site under the Limerick 2030 Economic and Spatial Plan which earmarked it for potential development as a civic and cultural centre for the city.