By Eoghan Dalton
Legal action surrounding a long-vacant shopping centre in Waterford is due to end next month, a meeting has heard.
Ferrybank Shopping Centre was built in 2008 for €100m but has remained empty owing to a long-running dispute between Dunnes Stores and NAMA.
According to Kilkenny County Council, the dispute will be resolved "before the end of next month", potentially clearing the way for the shopping centre to take on an anchor tenant.
The update was provided by Sean McKeown, Director of Planning, Economic and Environmental Services for the council, who said: "We do understand that there is ongoing positive engagement between both parties to resolve the dispute. Our understanding is that it's near resolution and likely to be resolved shortly - in fact, before the end of next month."
He told the monthly meeting of the Piltown Municipal District, which covers South Kilkenny including Ferrybank, that it is a strategic building for any development plans for the region.
It followed on from a suggestion from local councillor Ger Frisby who said he understood that a scheduled High Court sitting for the case did not go ahead as scheduled late last year.
He has asked previously that the local authority keep the pressure on so that the building can be filled if the legal dispute comes to a close.
"We are anxious to have the building occupied so it is positive that there is constructive engagement going on and it appears to be coming near to a resolution," Mr McKeown said.
He added that Kilkenny County Council is not a party in the proceedings and has no role in the case.
The 30,000 square foot building currently houses the council's municipal offices and the Ferrybank Library.
For much of the past decade the shopping centre has been the site of a protracted legal dispute involving Dunnes Stores and Deerland Construction, which transferred the loans for the building to NAMA during the recession.
Dunnes Stores, NAMA and Deerland Construction did not respond when contacted.