Longboat Quay get deadline extended

Longboat Quay
Longboat Quay

RESIDENTS at Longboat Quay apartments in Dublin have been given an extra 18-months to complete almost €4m worth of vital fire safety modifications.

The court order stalls the threat of evacuation hanging over approximately 600 residents from the 298 apartments in the Dublin docklands.

The Longboat Quay management company, which represented the residents, challenged the fire safety notice issued by Dublin Fire Brigade demanding work, including the installation of a smoke ventilation system and fire prevention materials, to begin by November 1st. The notice was issued on behalf of Dublin City Council.

The appeal brought by the against the notice was heard at Dublin District Court yesterday during which Judge Michael Coghlan heard lengthy submissions from the management company and Dublin City Council.

He confirmed the fire safety order but pushed back the deadline stipulating that the necessary work must be completed by May 30th in 2017 and that would require a starting date at some point in 2016.

By then it is expected a decision will have been made, in separate proceedings, as to who will foot the bill for the work which is expected to cost €3.88m and involves mostly common areas in the development.

Judge Coghlan said yesterday that he was agreeing to extend the deadline because “it is a unique case not comparable with a normal private residence situation; it is completely transparent to all, significant sums of money come into play”.

Judge Coghlan said he was sympathetic but had been concerned the request for the extension placed him “in the seat of having to deal with the potential for disaster between now and whenever those works are completed.”

However he noted that the development remains insured and it was expected that would continue and significant work has already been carried out to reduce risk.

The notice was served by Dublin Fire Brigade on October 2 because the work thought necessary to make the buildings safe had not started.

Separately, an issue has arisen and is currently before the Commercial Court as to who will foot the estimated €3.88m bill for the modifications.

Mr Peter Leonard SC for the management company asked Judge Michael Coghlan to extend the deadline for commencement of works imposed by the council. He said that the fire safety order had consisted of four requirements and there has been compliance with the first three. The court had a power to confirm, nullify or confirm and modify the fire safety order.

Other short term works due to be completed by Friday had “significantly reduced” risks to the building. From November last year and March this year €1m was spent to improve fire detection and alarm system. According to the management company's own fire safety consultants, this significantly improved safety at Longboat Quay.

However, Mr Leonard said that it would take another nine months to finish all the work and he said the original one-month deadline given was “manifestly unreasonable”.

Karen Denning BL, for the council said the complex is and will continue to be a potentially dangerous building until the remedial work has been done. Her client's view had not changed about the development and would not change until all the improvements have been completed.

The management company has brought a separate action against the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and builders Gendson – a company of developer Bernard McNamara – which later went into receivership, as well as the receivers

The management company claims the DDDA was obliged under a December 2004 agreement to ensure the complex was completed in a manner that left it reasonably fit for immediate occupation.

It alleges the DDDA failed to do that. In that action, the management company also claims the DDDA and Gendsong are obliged to indemnify it for all costs arising out of the defects.

It is expected that the matter will be heard in the Commercial Court in April or May next year.