Updated: 06/11/13 : 06:37:34
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Hazelwood House 'concern' as Foresthaze falls

Special Report

THE CONTROVERSIAL company Foresthaze Development has been placed in receivership in recent days by Allied Irish Bank.

Its ending means ignominy for one of the Celtic Tiger's prized cubs in the Sligo region.

Grant Thornton were appointed receivers on October 29th by the bank, SligoToday can confirm.

However, the move, says Hazelwood Heritage Society, is "again raising concern" about the future of the 18th Palladian mansion, Hazelwood House, which is part of the receiver's portfolio.

Original backers of the Foresthaze property development and tourist amenity plan included Ireland's retired EC Commissioner Raymond MacSharry and his sons, including Fianna Fáil Senator Marc MacSharry.

A bitter internecine war was later fought between various investors and this ended with claims and counter claims the High Court.

'Gifted to Sligo'

The demise of Foresthaze, though predicable, is still sudden and casts new doubts on the future of Hazelwood House, which the company owned.

It dates back to the 1720s and is a protected structure in Irish law.

Hazelwood House should now be ''gifted, as is,'' to the people of Sligo and Ireland , says Beatrice McDonald.

She is spokesperson for Hazelwood Heritage Society, which led the fight against Foresthaze plans for extensive property development in the area.

The Society now wants the house and 80 acre site "to be developed as a cultural, tourism, heritage and educational amenity," explains Beatrice Mcdonald.

Foresthaze plans for the site were announced to big media fanfare in 2007 and included 158 detached houses plus four blocks of 54 apartments.

That plan was later shot down and refused approval by Sligo County Council, the local planning authority.

No Private Buyer

It is unclear now what the future holds for Hazelwood House and its surrounding site.

The package has been on the market since May 2013, asking offers in the region of €2.5 million.

But Beatrice Mcdonald believes no private buyer will touch it "given the significant cost of restoring a protected structure and remedial work (needed) to the surrounding industrial site and environment."

The Society's Committee publicly offered one euro for the property - "a sincere and realistic offer that, to date, has not been responded to," adds Mcdonald.

A Facebook page for "Save Hazelwood House" already had ad 405 'likes' early this morning, Wednesday.

That campaign is run by the Hazelwood Heritage Society which also highlights "decades of neglect, abandonment, vandalism and inappropriate use" at the site now in receivership.

Two major multinational manufacturers were based there, Snia Viscosa from Italy and Saehan Media from Korea, commencing in 1969.

These derelict factory sites are all now in the Grant Thorton receiver's portfolio package.

The State is seen as unlikely to invest or purchase Hazelwood House as it baulked at the opportunity to purchase Lissadell House in better times.