Public Affairs Ireland | Training and Development | Conferences

 The Government has today announced details of the latest infrastructure stimulus plan which intends to progress investment of over €2bn in new capital projects. The Government intend to secure €1.4bn of non-Exchequer funding for a new PPP programme. A further €350m will be invested by the State to support these PPP projects. An additional €500m will be made available for other projects in the area of public infrastructure 

It has been confirmed that the Grangegorman Educational Facility, as part of phase one of this plan, is to commence. Given the sparse nature of the DIT sites, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, Brendan Howlin TD said that “through this investment we can begin to consolidate these sites onto one centralized educational facility”.  

As the article below explains the search for a new site for DIT dates back to the early 1990s and work has been ongoing ever since.  This article first appeared in the July edition of the PAI Journal in 2004.

New Home for DIT (July 2004)

Although the Dublin Institute of Technology can trace its roots back to 1887, it was not until its constituent colleges came together in 1992, that the Institute began looking for a campus.  Since then, DIT has been actively seeking a suitable site, and eventually – after a struggle spanning over a decade – it seems to have found its solution in Grangegorman, on the north side of Dublin’s inner city.

A Long Wait for a New Home

In the early 1990s, when DIT first began looking for a campus site, it focused its attention on Collins Barracks.  When this was allocated to the National Museum instead, DIT switched its focus elsewhere: the site of St. Brendan’s Mental Hospital, Grangegorman – over 70 acres of land near the heart of Dublin – the largest single undeveloped site in the country’s capital city.

In October 1995, the first meeting to consider the transfer of lands at Grangegorman from the Eastern Health Board to DIT took place.  Six months later, “agreement in principle” was given by all concerned that 67 of the 77 acres at the site should be transferred to DIT.  It was not until December 1999, however, that the Government formally committed its support to DIT’s plan for relocation, and the Institute had to wait a further 16 months before getting the green light for phase one of the development.

This February, the Draft Dublin City Development Plan identified Grangegorman as a key development area, and, in recent weeks, the Government has published the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004.  So finally, it seems, DIT’s long wait for a new home is over.

Grangegorman Development Agency Bill

The Grangegorman Development Agency Bill provides for the establishment of an agency to oversee the development of lands owned variously by the Departments of Education and Health and Children, DIT, the Eastern Regional Health Authority, and the Northern Area Health Board.  The Development Agency will include 11 members nominated by the Minister for Education, two nominated by the Minister for Health, at least one of whom must be an officer of the Eastern Regional Health Authority or the Northern Area Health Board, one member nominated by the City Manager, and one nominated by DIT.

The Agency will be deemed a development agency under the Planning and Development Act 2000, which will allow for significant input from Dublin City Council in planning the future development of the Grangegorman site.  The Bill will be included in the Government’s programme of legislation for the Dáil’s autumn session. 

Speaking at the publication of the new Bill in June, the Taoiseach, Mr Bertie Ahern TD, said: “The development of such a large institution will bring many positives to this area of Dublin.  It will underpin economic activity in the surrounding area, enhance access opportunities, provide recreational and sporting facilities, and create direct and indirect employment opportunities.”

The Taoiseach’s remarks were echoed by Dr Noel O’Connor, Chair of the Grangegorman Project Team in DIT, who said that, as well as its strategic national importance, the project would make an enormous contribution to urban rejuvenation in Dublin’s inner city.  “DIT has a long track record in the educational, social and commercial life of Dublin, and we are looking forward to working closely with all of the other partners and stakeholders in what is a very exciting project,” he said.

Developing the Site

The development of the Grangegorman site means that DIT will overtake UCD to become the largest third-level facility in the country, with over 23,000 students.  The Institute plans to increase the number of courses it offers by 35 per cent, and to have the “major portion” of students in place on the new campus by 2007, with the remainder relocated by 2011.

The new campus is expected to include a student support centre, student residences, and an extensive library.

The development is likely to cost approximately €750 million, and is to be phased over a period of almost ten years.  €200 million of the projected cost will come from the Exchequer, and a further €200 million is expected from the sale of DIT-owned properties around Dublin.  The remaining funds – it is hoped – will come from commercially-generated revenue and from a fundraising drive. 

Why Move?

At present, DIT operates from almost 40 locations throughout the city.  These include the Institute’s buildings on Aungier Street, Bolton Street, Cathal Brugha Street, and Mountjoy Square.  The renovation and upgrading of the premises at Bolton Street and Cathal Brugha Street alone would cost over €100 million, according to some estimates.

The development is expected to rejuvenate the entire area surrounding Grangegorman – the campus will stretch from the North Circular Road almost as far south as North Brunswick Street, and from Broadstone to the rear of Prussia Street.  It is proposed that the campus will include industry-linked buildings enterprise units, and state-of-the-art sports facilities that will be available for use by local residents.

Undoubtedly, however, the main beneficiaries of this new development will be the future students of DIT.  Mr Jarlath Molloy, current President of the Students’ Union, is confident that the campus will mean a better way of life at DIT.  “Obviously, it’s a fantastic opportunity for the college and for the student body,” he says.  “From a student services point of view, there are massive opportunities ahead… As we centralise, there’ll be better facilities.  From an academic side – but also from a social side – it looks to be good.  It will have all the facilities which DIT students have been lacking over the last few years.”

With such praise from its students ringing in its ears, DIT can be confident that it has found its home at last.