County Wexford Chamber welcome the news that the local authority has now entered into the official process to place a Compulsory Purchase Order on a 50 acre site in Whiterock to be used for a state of the art campus for the new South East Technological University (SETU).
THE new Cathaoirleach of Wexford County Council Cllr George Lawlor has confirmed that the local authority has now entered into the official process.
The process for the acquisition of the site, which stretches from Whiterock to Killeens, is expected to take between six and nine months and Cllr Lawlor says it’s been a long time coming.
“I met with the Chief Executive and the Deputy Chief Executive and we all agreed that this process had to move on,” he said. “The time of kicking tyres on this has gone on long enough.”
Last month, Chief Executive of Wexford County Council Tom Enright confirmed that the local authority had officially tabled an offer to the owner of the 50 acre site, but it appears that this offer was not accepted as they are now proceeding with the CPO.
“We have a seller that’s willing to sell and we as a council are willing to buy,” Cllr Lawlor said. “The only stumbling block is the price. Now, under the CPO, that will be decided by independent people. The landowner has a responsibility to maximise what he can get for his land. We as a local authority have a responsibility to spend public money in an efficient and wise way.”
Sources close to the deal, however, state that the landowner has been unhappy with the communication from the local authority since the site was first identified. Back in November of last year, the landowner stated that he had learned of updates in relation to his land on the pages of this newspaper rather than receiving formal communication from the council. Earlier this year, Fine Gael councillor Frank Staples criticised the approach of council officials, stating it was “no way for the council to do business”.
It appears that relations have not improved since then and communication between the landowner and the local authority has been at an absolute minimum.
Regardless, with the search for a new campus site having dragged on for years already and witnessed a few false dawns, Wexford County Council are now keen to get this deal done and ensure that the model county is now left behind in terms of the newly established SETU.
This will not, however, be an overnight development.
“Once the land is acquired then it’ll be over to a detailed design and planning permission,” Cllr Lawlor said. “I know Brendan Howlin had discussions with Minister for Higher Education Simon Harris and a commitment was given that money has been ringfenced for the Wexford campus though, so I can’t see why, once the land is acquired, we can’t proceed at pace with design and getting planning permission.”
When pressed for a rough timeline, Cllr Lawlor said: “I think we could probably be looking at three years before we’ll see a building on the site. But we’ve been waiting 40 years to get to this stage.”