I am delighted to have this opportunity in the Seanad to begin the process of debating the Grangegorman Development Agency Bill 2004. On Committee and Report Stages in the Dáil, the Bill received wide cross-party support. I was gratified to have such support from Members of the Lower House, many of whom, like myself, have declared links to the Dublin Institute of Technology — some as former students, staff or members of former governing bodies.
The general aim of the Bill is to facilitate the Grangegorman site as a modern campus for the DIT and to provide the Health Service Executive with upgraded facilities. The Bill establishes the Grangegorman Development Agency to project manage the development in an integrated and sustainable manner and is, therefore, a critical part of the overall way forward in meeting the needs of all the interested parties.
Before going into the detail of the Bill I would like to outline for Members some of the history of this development that I believe will help put in context what we wish to achieve by passing this legislation. In December 1999, the Government decided that the Department of Education and Science would purchase 65 acres of the 73-acre Grangegorman site from the Eastern Regional Health Authority, and that the site would house the new Dublin Institute of Technology community campus.
In 2001, the Taoiseach set up an interdepartmental working group, with a view to examining the project and reporting back to the Cabinet with its recommendations. The group represented the DIT, the Eastern Regional Health Authority and the Northern Area Health Board that were in existence at the time, the Departments of Education and Science, Health and Children, Public Enterprise, Finance, Environment and Local Government, and Dublin City Council. It was chaired by the Department of the Taoiseach.
In July 2001, the group appointed consultants to carry out an extensive investigation into the development potential of the site as a campus for DIT together with health facilities. The consultancy report was delivered in November 2001 and the strategic conclusions and recommendations contained in the report included the following: the Grangegorman site is a unique and valuable public asset and should be developed in an integrated and sustainable manner; an integrated site plan should be prepared with a view to securing outline planning permission; the health care and educational requirements could be developed on a phased basis; the affordability of the project should be determined at the outset and, therefore, the Government should determine the broad budgetary parameters for a phase one development; and a Grangegorman development company should be set up to project manage the development and determine the type of procurement to be employed.
In April 2002, on the basis of the report prepared by the interdepartmental working group, the Government decided that a statutory Grangegorman development agency would be established to manage the development of the site as an agent for the Dublin Institute of Technology, the now Health Service Executive and the Departments involved.
The Bill, therefore, provides for the establishment of the Grangegorman development agency to undertake the development of the Grangegorman site as a location for education, health and related activities. As Senators will be aware, the Bill recently completed all Stages in the Dáil.
In examining the possible uses of this strategic site, the Government took account not only of the needs of the DIT, but also the need to regenerate this underdeveloped area of Dublin city. The Government is conscious that the integration of the proposed development with the existing community would produce benefits beyond the actual Grangegorman site. In reflecting the importance of this major development, the Bill provides for clear consultation with a wide range of stakeholder groups including surrounding communities. It must also be recognised that this will be a complex property development project that involves a number of Departments and agencies.
Due to the complexities involved, the Government is determined that the site will be developed in a strategic manner in order to maximise its potential, and to protect the interests of the residents in the area. For this reason the Bill provides for direct community and locally elected representation on the membership of the agency with the former being drawn from a clearly defined local neighbourhood.
The aim of the Grangegorman campus is to create an attractive learning environment that encourages the development of an interdisciplinary and modular pedagogy, collaborative research, alliances with enterprise and creative practice. In addition, it will be sufficiently flexible to meet the changing needs of society and education in the 21st century, and will recognise the DIT's role as a cultural, educational and technological institution interfacing with society, while responding to national economic and social imperatives. The campus will contribute to a vibrant community and will make an important contribution to the regeneration of the area.
In creating this campus, all institute activities will be brought together onto a single campus and, in the process, will create a more effective and efficient organisation. Such measures are critical to the institute and are supported by the recent OECD report on the future of higher education in Ireland.
The poor and inconsistent quality of much of the institute's building stock places significant constraints on its mission of service to society and the economy. The DIT is the largest provider of education in the higher education sector in Ireland, operating on just 11 acres. At present, the DIT is spread over 39 buildings on 30 sites throughout Dublin. Most Senators will be familiar with the institute's premises in Bolton Street, Kevin Street and Aungier Street. However, a DIT presence can also be found in many other parts of the city, such as Capel Street, Great Denmark Street and New Bride Street. The DIT premises also stretch out to Rathmines and Slaney Road in Glasnevin, and include many other smaller, rented properties in use. The cost of rental alone is in excess of €4.15 million per annum.
The institute is just completing the process of reorganising all its academic activities on a modular basis. However, it will be difficult to exploit fully the opportunities offered by a modular system until such time as all students are on the one campus.
There are clearly serious operational inefficiencies in seeking to manage and operate a major institution such as the DIT over such a wide variety of locations. These not only militate severely against operational effectiveness, but also have adverse cost implications in a wide variety of areas, such as security, heating, lighting, administration, registration, records, support services, dining arrangements, library services and intercommunications.
It is estimated that the potential costs associated with an upgrading, replacement and refurbishment of existing buildings are approximately €200 million, without the many facilities and amenities which are common throughout the higher education sector generally. For example, the cost to refurbish and bring up to modern standards the institute's Bolton Street and Kevin Street facilities is estimated at over €100 million. The Kevin Street premises, which currently comprise the faculty of science and electrical-electronic engineering, are seriously deficient in accommodation and layout for modern needs. The faculty of the built environment and a major part of the faculty of engineering are located in Bolton Street. Other premises in the DIT's property portfolio equally need capital funds spent on them.
The relocation of the DIT to Grangegorman will enable the institute to achieve its strategic objectives. In particular, the consolidation of the institute on a single campus will provide it with a new dynamic in its efforts to serve many sectors of the economy and society.
A range of reports has emphasised the strategic nature of science and technology to the Irish economy. They include the following: the report of the Forfás task force on the physical sciences in 2002; the science technology and innovation advisory council's report of 1995; the report of the review committee on post-secondary education and training places in 1999; and the technology foresight Ireland report prepared by the Irish Council for Science and Technology Innovation. The science and technology sector is a mainstay of Government policy and is critical to the economic sustainability of the country.
The DIT's faculties of science, engineering and the built environment will play an enhanced role in developing graduates in mathematics, computer sciences, physics, chemistry, engineering, technology, architecture and biology. These graduates will, in turn, underpin the science and technology sectors within the economy.
Slightly less than half the degree programmes offered through the institute are, to a significant extent, science and technology based and in many cases the DIT is the sole provider in the State. These programmes are underpinned by basic research strengths. The Grangegorman campus will allow DIT to further develop the above strategic areas as well as provide for a wide range of other programmes in the broad areas of science, engineering and technology, closely integrated with research activity.
The construction industry is a major employer and is vital to sustaining growth in our production and manufacturing capacity as well as delivering our transport and housing infrastructure. The faculty of the built environment, together with the faculty of engineering, develops a range of graduates across construction skills, structural, mechanical, manufacturing and building services engineering. Effective planning in an urban and rural context is central to the future development of the State. Maintaining and enhancing the environment for the benefit of all is a key requirement of our society. The faculty of the built environment has an established leadership role in these areas, providing the only undergraduate programme in planning in Ireland. It has also introduced post-graduate opportunities, and it is one of only two providers in the country in the areas of architecture and property economics.
Energy consumption and sustainable development are major issues affecting our society, and cut across all aspects of planning and construction. It is intended that the new campus will be a model of best practice in terms of sustainable design and construction, energy usage, and water and waste management.
The enterprise strategy group identified internationally traded services as an important area for growth, underpinned by improved marketing skills. Entrepreneurship, innovation and enhanced business process are all hallmarks of the DIT faculty of business. The faculty has supported the financial services sector and marketing functions of the State, semi-State and private sector over many years. One unique example is its degree in retail services management, the only such programme in Ireland. Its graduate business school, in conjunction with other faculties in DIT, offers unique multidisciplinary MBA programmes with specialisations in such areas as facilities and construction project management along with strategic management and entrepreneurship. In addition, DIT's project development centre has an established record in advancing innovation, product development and project management skills within the economy. The Grangegorman campus will allow on-site opportunities to develop business opportunities and processes and again facilitate cross-faculty interaction.
Interdisciplinary and cross-disciplinary knowledge and research are increasingly playing a significant role in the economic prosperity. Activities that span the digital media, creative technologies, music technology, film, drama, broadcasting, design and interactive media have been identified as being growth areas for employment and wealth creation within the economy, as detailed in the Forfás report, A Strategy for the Digital Content Industry in Ireland. As technology matures, the focus is shifting to generating content that can exploit new media opportunities. The Grangegorman campus will allow DIT to draw together disparate elements of technology and media on a single location to create an integrated approach and in the process develop innovative approaches to programme delivery. This development will facilitate significant links with outreach centres and delivery into industry.
The tourism sector is the second largest employer in Ireland, accounting for approximately 150,000 employees, with a major multiplier effect through the economy. In addition to the economic contribution of tourism there is a significant sociological impact. Evidence points to the major benefit of tourism revenues to rural populations in halting the shift towards urbanisation. DIT is Ireland's major provider of tourism education and research. The faculty offers Ireland's only degree programmes in tourism marketing and culinary arts. It is Ireland's only centre for tourism education and research designated by the World Tourism Organisation. The faculty offers a range of programmes not otherwise available in the Dublin region. In addition, the faculty has over many years developed a significant research base within its tourism research centre. The Grangegorman campus will provide an opportunity for the faculty to address the very significant deficiencies it has with respect to its physical environment and infrastructure.
The food processing sector has been identified as being central to supporting agriculture. The national development plan emphasises the need to grow sectors of competitive advantage. Ireland has produced a number of world class manufacturers in the dairy and meat sectors. The recently published future skills needs report, The Demand and Supply of Skills in the Food Processing Sector, outlines the importance of the sector and numerous actions necessary to develop human capital in the industry, from shop floor operators through to senior management and research and product development. The faculty of tourism and food provides a range of tailored programmes to this sector and in addition offers a range of specialist research facilities and resources through the food product development centre.
Government policy has clearly identified research underpinning the move to a knowledge based economy as one of the key strategies for future economic growth and development. This is supported at EU level by the agreement to drive research spending up from just over 2% to 3% of GDP. Programmes such as the programme for research in third level institutions, PRTLI, Science Foundation Ireland and other initiatives such as those outlined in the Forfás annual report 2002 Review and 2003 Outlook underline the Government's commitment to achieving these goals. The ultimate requirement is for a ready supply and up skilling of graduate and postgraduate knowledge workers.
The move to Grangegorman will provide the basic research infrastructure, allowing the institute to optimise the resources available and to maximise their exploitation. It will bring together and cluster research activity within the institute in a highly visible and coherent manner. The rise in prominence of research and its associated infrastructure as a central activity of a third level institution is one of the largest changes to have occurred in third level education. The opportunity to design a new campus offers a unique opportunity for research facilities to be designed as an integral part of the core campus, rather than tacked onto the periphery as is the case with other older institutions. The strategic brief for the new campus strongly articulates that research activities should be a clear and visible up-front activity in order to signal its centrality to the mission of the institute, to strengthen the links between research and the core undergraduate courses, and to encourage undergraduate students to continue to postgraduate research.
Higher education in the 21st century demands close co-operation with industry to maximise technology transfers. The Grangegorman development will facilitate significant on-campus partnership with industry. Key industry partners who currently interact with faculties across the institute will locate elements of their operations on-campus. Such strategic partnerships have been established with selected companies and will provide research, part-time and full-time employment and career path opportunities for the students and staff of the institute. Such arrangements have proved successful in facilitating research, innovation and development. In addition, such partnerships enhance opportunities for employees to undertake continued education and training. The institute has experience of this type of interaction and partnership through its development in the East Wall innovation park. At present, the institute has utilised all its available space within this park. This space is rented, and at some distance from the faculties which support it. Grangegorman will bring Industry on-campus in close proximity to student and staff members and will enable the institute to respond to increasing demands for research space and incubation space. It is estimated by DIT that the Grangegorman campus will create up to 4,500 employment opportunities.
A focal point of the Grangegorman campus will be the centre for visual and performing arts. This is an integrated performance, exhibition, teaching and research facility. The DIT conservatory of music and drama has played an active part in the cultural life of the State over many decades, and has not only trained many of our eminent musicians but continues to train new generations of music teachers who can bring music education to an ever greater number of young students. The institute has an established record in education and research in the performing arts. Grangegorman will facilitate a clustering of performance spaces in a single location to the benefit of students, staff members and the wider community.
Dublin City Council enthusiastically supports the Grangegorman development as a catalyst for development and rejuvenation of a large tract of the north inner city landscape. In its strategy document Dublin, a City of Possibilities, Dublin City Council has recognised the important contribution of third level institutions to the development of the city under the banner of "a learning city". The Dublin city development plan 2005-11 designates Grangegorman as a framework development area and identifies the Grangegorman development as a strategic objective of the city. With an anticipated campus population in excess of 20,000, representing students, staff and employees of industry partners, the development will have a population as significant as that of some Irish towns.
The impact on the physical environment of rebuilding and developing a large site area that has had very limited public access and little investment in recent years and opening it to the city as an educational, research, cultural, and amenity area, has been recognised by all parties concerned. Development of a campus at Grangegorman will contribute to greater social cohesion. The north inner city currently experiences Ireland's lowest rate of participation in higher education. At present the institute has formal links with 31 inner city schools and has a range of initiatives targeting enhanced participation in education. The new campus will further co-ordinate the contribution the institute can make in this area.
More broadly, the institute has just initiated a substantial project known as the Grangegorman community network project, funded through the Information Society Commission and the Department of Finance and sponsored by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. This project aims to design, build and evaluate a sustainable e-community, that makes use of ubiquitous computing applications and services, bringing educational opportunities into homes in the immediate neighbourhood.
Gathering all of DIT at this north-west inner city location will make a significant contribution to the redevelopment of this part of the city. This role will extend to education and training; underpinning economic activity within the surrounding area; enhancing access opportunities; extending cultural facilities; provision of recreational and sporting facilities; rebuilding and developing large areas of dereliction; creating direct and indirect employment opportunities; complementing existing educational and cultural facilities within the area; and providing access to campus facilities, students and staff resources.
The Bill makes provision for an agency to provide a cohesive planning and implementation framework for the Grangegorman site. In view of the nature, importance and the size of the project, the functions of the agency are detailed and appropriate to its task. Section 9 provides that the primary function of the agency will be to promote the Grangegorman site as a location for education, health and other facilities and to co-ordinate the development or redevelopment of the site. This section also enables the agency to enter arrangements to exploit research, development or consultancy work undertaken by or on its behalf.
Given the DIT's currently-in-use large property portfolio, the development of the Grangegorman site as a new campus is underpinned by the sale or development of these existing DIT premises to finance future stages of development. Therefore, section 9 also makes provision for the vesting of these premises in the agency, together with other land and property vacated by the HSE. The DIT-owned properties will be signed over to the agency as they become available. It will be a matter for the agency to dispose of the property that gives the maximum return and the income generated will be used, together with other resources, to fund the development. In view of this, one of the first tasks that the agency will have to perform will be to undertake an examination of the titles of all of the properties within the Grangegorman site, in addition to the properties currently in the ownership of the DIT. It will then be a matter of deciding the appropriate strategy for procuring each individual element of the site.
The agency will be the sole authority for developing the site. To achieve this it will be required to engage in the planning process and decide on the appropriate procurement strategy. In view of the complexity and sensitivity of the development, the legislation requires the agency to arrange an appropriate communication strategy and consult with stakeholders and relevant interested third parties such as Dublin City Council, CIE and Dublin Bus.
The area surrounding the site is primarily residential. Clearly, therefore, the development of the site must be approached with sensitivity. For this reason, the Bill incorporates provision for extensive consultation with all interested parties. These include local residents and health care staff and patients located in or near the site, the academic and student bodies of DIT, the HSE, and the Ministers for Education and Science and Health and Children. The Bill provides for the vesting of those lands and premises to be occupied by the DIT, the health authority or other educational body into the ownership of the respective authority, institute or other body on the completion of the construction phase.
Section 10 allows for additional functions to be conferred on the agency by order of the Minister for Education and Science with the consent of the Minister for Finance. Under section 11, the Minister for Education and Science may at certain times issue general directives to the agency on policy regarding any of the functions assigned to the agency under the Act. In addition, the Minister, with the consent of the Minister for Finance, may give a general directive specifying the financial objectives of the agency and the manner in which it shall conduct its financial affairs. However, I emphasise that this section shall not impose on the agency a duty or liability which may be the subject of legal proceedings.
While the principal purpose of the Bill is to provide a campus for DIT and health care facilities for the HSE on the site, it is also recognised that the Grangegorman site is unique and of strategic importance in the context of Dublin as a whole. In view of this, provision is made for Dublin City Council to be involved with the planning and development of the site from the outset.
Section 12 provides that the agency will be responsible for drawing up a strategic development plan for the site, with a particular focus on the provision of adequate public transport access. The plan — which will be a necessary condition of seeking and obtaining planning permission and must have regard to the Dublin City development plan — should incorporate community use and access and be informed by a high quality urban design perspective by developing the site in the context of land usage in the vicinity and in a way that is sympathetic to its urban setting.
The plan shall consist of a written statement and will indicate the objectives for the development, including the needs of the Ministers for Education and Science and Health and Children, the DIT, the HSE and the Grangegorman neighbourhood. It must also include the provision of facilities to exploit any research, consultancy or development work undertaken by the agency in conjunction with the DIT or the HSE. In addition, it must take account of the needs of the local community by facilitating access to and use of facilities by residents in the Grangegorman neighbourhood.
Given the nature of the proposed development and the likely impact on the locality, in drawing up the plan the agency will also consult and seek the views of a number of statutory bodies such as the Dublin Transportation Office, CIE, Enterprise Ireland and other interested parties. An opportunity will be given to members of the public to view and comment on the draft plan, which will also be available on a website, before it is adopted. The agency will be required to consider those submissions and amend the plan where appropriate.
Section 13 gives the Minister the power to order the transfer of land from a statutory body to the agency. However, this can only be done following consultation with the body concerned and with the Minister for Finance's agreement. The Minister must be satisfied that the land in question is not necessary for the performance of the functions of the statutory body concerned.
Section 14 makes provision for the making of grants to cover capital and current expenditure to the agency by the Minister for Education and Science or any other Minister, subject to the approval of the Minister for Finance. Section 15 is an enabling provision to provide the agency with the power to raise loans to a limit of €100 million, subject to the approval of the Ministers for Education and Science and Finance. Section 16 is a standard provision which allows the Minister for Finance to provide guarantees for these loans. At the end of each financial year the Minister for Finance will be required to lay before the Houses of the Oireachtas a statement giving the details of each guarantee given.
Section 17 provides for the membership of the agency. From my first involvement with this legislation, I was acutely aware of the need to ensure that the board of the agency had adequate, balanced representation and appropriate input from all interested parties, including the local residents. In deciding on the make up of the agency, the Government was cognisant of the need to provide a direct input from the parties most interested in the development of Grangegorman and the need to drive the development forward. The initial proposal of 11 members was amended during Dáil the debate to strengthen community representation.
The Bill now provides for the appointment of 15 members to the agency, including the chairman. Membership will include two members nominated by the Minister for Health and Children, including one from the Health Services Executive; two members nominated by the Dublin Institute of Technology; one local resident, to be elected as set out in Schedule 4 of the Bill; one member drawn from Dublin City Council; one member nominated by the Dublin City Manager; and the remainder to be nominated by the Minister for Education and Science.
Members will agree that it is important to ensure that the interests of the residents are properly represented and the development will benefit from having a resident of the neighbourhood on the agency. I am conscious that the selection process should be as transparent as possible and the Fourth Schedule to the Bill outlines the procedure to be applied in selecting the local resident to the board of the agency. The term of office of the chairman and each ordinary member shall be three years.
Section 22 requires the agency to form a consultative group. The group will consist of stakeholders in the project and will include representatives selected by local residents in the Grangegorman neighbourhood, health care service providers and patients, Dublin City Council, Dublin Institute of Technology staff and students, the HSE, certain other Ministers and such statutory bodies as the Minister deems relevant. The agency is required to develop a communications strategy and is required to hold as many meetings as required to maintain the communications strategy.
Sections 23 to 40, inclusive, deal with the chief executive officer and staff of the agency and cover such matters as superannuation, code of conduct, declaration of interests and reports by the agency to the Minister. Section 41 deals with the dissolution of the agency. Sections 42 and 43 amend the definition of agency in the Planning and Development Act 2000 to include the Grangegorman Development Agency and the Schedule to the National Development Finance Agency Act 2002 to include the Grangegorman Development Agency.
Approximately 10% of the Grangegorman site is intended for development of health care facilities for the Health Services Executive. Currently, it is anticipated that the health development on the site will include residential and day care for intellectually impaired, residential and day care for young physically impaired and residential and day care for the elderly and dementia sufferers. It is also envisaged that the creation of a joint education and health campus will provide opportunities to create synergies in developing an appropriate model of care and development in specialist areas such as optometry, clinical-hospital measurement, dietetics and nutrition, social care, early childhood studies, and health services management.
It is anticipated that on-site co-operation between those who provide education and those who provide health care will lead to the development of tailored courses in health-related disciplines. The development of the Grangegorman site will facilitate a move from institutional to more appropriate community settings. The focus of health care provision will also shift from regional to local level. That will involve a move from acute care to rehabilitation.
Turning to the important question of funding, it has been estimated that the overall cost of the development will be approximately €900 million. That preliminary estimate takes into consideration the cost of all the educational facilities which will be required, including additional ancillary facilities such as student accommodation, an industry and science park, retail outlets and other complementary activities. Some income will be generated on-site through educational and health activities. The figure of €900 million is a preliminary estimate. The actual cost will be arrived at when critical information, such as start dates, phasing and the type of procurement to be used, is available to the agency.
It was originally envisaged that the DIT campus at Grangegorman would be developed on a phased basis. It was anticipated that the initial phase of the development would be financed with Exchequer funds, through the Department of Education and Science. The agency will be required to prepare full costings as part of the development's master plan. It will have to decide on the best form of procurement in consultation with the National Development Finance Agency. As Senators are aware, State authorities have to seek the finance agency's advice before they undertake major public investment projects. The finance agency will assist during the project assessment, development and procurement process by evaluating financial risks and the cost of infrastructure projects and assessing the optimal mix of financing to achieve value for money. The Department and the DIT have briefed the finance agency on the proposed development.
The decision to locate all the colleges of the DIT at Grangegorman will make a significant contribution to the redevelopment of the north inner city. The role of the DIT will involve providing education and training, underpinning economic activity in the surrounding area, enhancing access opportunities, extending cultural facilities, providing recreational and sporting facilities, rebuilding and developing large areas of dereliction and creating direct and indirect employment opportunities. The DIT is working in close co-operation with the Department of Education and Science, Dublin City Council, representative groups, development associations and agencies, Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Health Service Executive.
I hope Senators agree with me about the Bill's positive benefits. I look forward to listening to their contributions and to debating the various provisions of the legislation with them. I commend the Bill to the House.