Leeson Calls on Dept. of Education to Reveal Cost of Sandyford School

Brian Leeson is calling on the Department of Education and Skills to reveal the projected costs associated with Grafton House in the Sandyford Industrial Estate. The Department are currently seeking planning permission to convert the industrial unit into a ‘temporary school’.

Speaking from Dundrum the Éirígí local election candidate said,

“Over the last week I have publicly questioned the suitability of using Grafton House as a location for a temporary school. My initial concerns related to the negative recent experience in this area with the ‘temporary school’ model, as well as the proximity of the building to a major future construction site and possible traffic problems that may arise should the development process.

I’m now also concerned about the potential cost to the state of this ‘temporary school’, particularly if it is confirmed that the building is being rented from a private landlord.

According to media reports, the loan book associated with Grafton House was acquired by Lone Star, a Dallas-based Vulture Fund, during the fire-sale that followed the collapse of the property sector. How much Lone Star paid for the building does not appear to be in the public domain, but it’s safe to assume that the loan book was heavily discounted by the private bank that sold it.”

Calling for clarification in relation to the ownership of Grafton House Leeson said,

“At some point since 2015 the building was acquired by Esprit Investment Ltd, which subsequently lodged planning permission to build a hotel on the site. This planning application was refused by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council Council. On January 14, 2019, Esprit lodged an appeal to overturn this decision. The fact that Esprit are still actively attempting to secure planning permission for a hotel on the site strongly suggests that Esprit are renting the building to the Department of Education.

In 2015, Grafton House was generating an income of €126,000 per year. The Department have applied for planning permission to use the building as a school for up to five years. At 2015 rates that would amount to a total rent of over €600,00 over five years, plus the considerable cost of converting the building from its current use to that of a school. This is a staggering amount of public money to spend on what is only a temporary school. This money would be much better invested in a permanent school building for this new school.

I am calling on the Department of Education to publicly clarify whether it is renting, or has bought, Grafton House and to reveal the projected costs associated with converting the building and surrounding site into a temporary school for five years. The public have a right to know how their money is being spent. Once this information is in the public domain people can make their own minds up about whether it amounts to good planning or good value for money.”