HORSE Sport Ireland tonight announced the end of its controversial plans to relocate to Greenogue Equestrian Centre, Rathcoole, citing rising costs.
A statement from HSI said, "the Board of Horse Sport Ireland (HSI) decided today that, due to external economic factors beyond its control, the agreement in principle to build a Centre of Excellence at Greenogue, in Rathcoole, Co. Dublin will no longer be pursued.
"The proposal to enter into a 35-year lease with Greenogue Equestrian will not be advanced and in the context of the HSI Strategic Plan 2019-2024, an alternative strategy will be considered. Consequently, as a legally binding lease will not be entered into, any construction development works will not be tendered for, and the proposal to further develop the site to Horse Sport Ireland’s specifications will fall away.
"The decision has been taken by the Board of HSI after careful consideration of the current economic context and prudent assessment of the inherent risk factors arising for such a significant strategic project. The spiralling construction costs, due to inflation in the economy in general and increases in raw material costs because of the war in Ukraine, mean that the building costs of the proposed Centre of Excellence could increase by at least 50 per cent, making the project non-viable," said the statement.
“Unfortunately, given the huge increase in expected construction costs, HSI has no option but to conclude the negotiations and proposals related to the Centre of Excellence project at the Greenogue site,” said HSI Chief Executive Denis Duggan.
“However, it should be noted that the concept of a Centre of Excellence for equestrian sport in Ireland has been a central ambition for HSI, and it remains a key goal and very much a live ambition for the organisation. Given that the current project cannot now proceed due to the consequential inflationary environment, both in terms of construction and supply chain, which is beyond our control, we will be re-assessing our overall plans. In that context, HSI is open to discussions with all players in the equine industry in Ireland in relation to the strategic initiative.”
Since March 2021, HSI has been hiring the Greenogue Equestrian facility on an ad hoc basis for High Performance Training, as well as other venues in the industry, subject to the needs of the respective programmes.
“Greenogue is an excellent facility for equestrian sports and notwithstanding today’s decision, HSI will continue to seek to use the premises in the future, in tandem with other venues in the industry,” added Mr Duggan.
HSI selected the Greenogue site for its proposed Centre of Excellence in November 2020, after extensive research, a feasibility and economic analysis and discussions with affiliates and other stakeholders. Since then, architects, designers, and planning experts have been engaged to work on the project and to bring it through planning. Planning permission for the development works relating to the proposed new facility was granted last August.
Business as usual at Greenogue
The owner of Greenogue Equestrian, Lucy McCarthy, and the developer of Greenogue, Con McCarthy, outlined how they understood HSI’s reasons for discontinuing the project at Greenogue. “Construction costs are increasing to a point where it does not make financial or economic sense for HSI to proceed. A lot of other projects are also being affected in this manner, given the current financial climate,” said the McCarthys.
“From our perspective here in Greenogue it’s business as usual. We have what we believe are first class facilities and we have some fantastic horse owners using the stables, both on a standard livery basis and on a DIY livery basis.
“The arenas, including the derby arena, the indoor and the several outdoor arenas, continue to be available for hire and the facility is in constant demand from individuals and groups, (including HSI), as well as by our own residents.
“In addition to our own horses, we have two other professional riders based here. Sorrell Klatzko, one of Irelands top dressage riders, moved in here in January with four horses and Ian Cassells, one of our best up and coming Event riders, moved five of his horses here a few months ago.
“Anyone who is starting out on their career and does not have the required facilities, or even established professionals who might like better facilities, might consider this option.
“We know the cost of providing top class arenas and all the other necessary facilities, and it’s much more affordable if like-minded people come together to share the overhead. Our ambition is to have possibly five or six professionals based here with us, who each might have anything up to 10 horses, all training together and driving each other on.”
HSI has not incurred any capital costs in respect of development works on the project at Greenogue. Any such works during the course of the negotiations were undertaken exclusively by Greenogue Equestrian as part of the ongoing desire by the proprietor to upgrade the facility to the highest standards.
“The total invested in the design and planning for the new centre to date has been about €120,000, however significant elements of this activity, such as work on developing the concept, and the core design, can be reused in any future Centre of Excellence project. HSI will bear the cost of the design and planning instructions given that the project at Greenogue will not be pursued to the next stage”, said HSI Chief Executive Denis Duggan.
"HSI recognises that stakeholders will be disappointed with this outcome for the project at Greenogue, however, it remains positive that the concept endures and will be pursued when the right opportunity arises in the future," ended the HSI statement.