Bernard McNamara: 'dead' property market

NAMA-bound property developer Bernard McNamara intends to lodge a "change of use" planning application with Fingal County Council which will see him provide more than 3,800 graves and 150 car-parking places at a site in Scribblestown, west Dublin.

In a reflection of an ongoing trend among under-pressure property developers seeking to find alternative uses for their land in a "dead" property market, a planning notice has appeared in national newspapers revealing that McNamara's company, Verson­wood, intends to apply for planning permission for a graveyard on lands which it owns.

The proposed development, which relates to a 4.47 hectare site at Priorstown House in Castleknock, will consist "of the change of use of the site to a cemetery to provide a total of 3,840 graves, [and] the construction of a 44.89 sq m caretakers office and maintenance building".

It will also include a " 150 no space car park; and associated infrastructure and site development works above and below ground required to facilitate the development, including internal access roads, landscaping and boundary treatments," the notice states.

As previously reported in the Sunday Tribune, Versonwood has noted in its earlier submissions to Fingal County Council that many of the 37 graveyards in use in the county "have reached or are nearing full capacity."

But McNamara is by no means alone in seeking to put his lands to alternative use as graveyards.

Controversial developers Michael and Tom Bailey, who own Bovale, want to open a cemetery on part of a 106 acre site they own in Balgriffin, near Portmarnock.

The lands are currently zoned green belt and are located within the outer public safety zone of the airport so "a cemetery would be a suitable use, along with residential below 60 persons per half hectare".

The graveyard would be an extension to the existing 4.2 acre cemetery at Balgriffin and the land would also be suitable for a "crematorium facility". Bovale says this would "provide for the needs of north Dublin" for a period of up to 25 years.

Prominent businessman and entrepreneur Ben Dunne had also planned to open a cemetery in the London suburb of Wimbledon. However, he said last year that the planners would not allow a graveyard on the 20-acre site, which he bought for about £3m (€3.5m).