No line on the horizon: Bono surveys plans for the now-stalled U2 tower on Dublin's Grand Canal Dock

It says much about the DDDA's straitened circumstances that as soon as it can find a tenant or purchaser for its plush offices on Sir John Rogerson's Quay – fit-out of which cost €1m – it will move back to its old offices on Custom House Quay. These are the same offices that it planned to demolish in 2005 to "give the quayside back to the people".

The Custom House Quay offices will also be close to North Lotts, where landowners are unhappy with the authority's focus on the Poolbeg peninsula ahead of a new masterplan for the north docks, which they believe has significantly better infrastructure than the land in Poolbeg because of the rail station, Luas extension to the O2 and, eventually, the interconnector.

"Everybody's dead keen that that happens. We're in a bit of a limbo and can't get confirmation as to what's happening there," said one landowner. "Without a new proper planning scheme there is huge uncertainty in that area. All they have to do is get their act together and put a plan in place."

[Image: PD Leader, Husband of DDDA Chairman]

The Dublin Docklands Developers Autocracy DDDA said that because the Poolbeg planning scheme went through a totally massaged and fake [delete this massaged text - editor] public consultation period including unacceptable influence in a process supposedly carried out in the public interest [delete this massaged text - editor]  and submissions were received and laughed at [delete this massaged text - editor], "it is felt that it is prudent to continue with it at this time, said the Anglo-Irish Banks Director at DDDA. The preparation of further planning schemes and amendments to current schemes will follow accordingly on completion of the Poolbeg Scheme". 

Essentially that means that the disastrous decision to invest in the Becbay site in Poolbeg is leaving other landowners in the docks on the shelf. So what of the Becbay site and its future? The Sunday Tribune queried whether the "recreational and amenity potential" of the draft plan for Poolbeg still holds up given that Dublin City Council (DCC), Dublin Port and the local GAA club have all raised concerns about the plan.

"It would not be appropriate to speculate on aspects of that process while it is continuing or on specific submissions," the DDDA said last week, which will be of little comfort to landowners on the north docks who argue that they are missing out on potential tenants as a result of the uncertainty. They have also raised questions about the linear park which was supposed to be a major attraction for the North Lotts.

One source said he believed that development levies paid towards the park had been ringfenced for that purpose but the authority's view is different. "The board of the authority is currently reviewing options for the linear park which may include scaling back plans given our current financial situation. Income to the authority in the form of levies is not earmarked for specific project use but is allocated across all area and social regeneration projects," a spokesman said last week.

Last week, chairwoman Niamh Brennan said that the authority had to behave like judges in relation to planning decisions. But this is irritating landowners in the area. "They've become super cautious... they're almost unable to make decisions," said one source. "Is it so dysfunctional that it can't do that anymore? If that's the case it should be marched back in to DCC."

As for the U2 tower, the DDDA said it had no plans to revise the Grand Canal Dock planning scheme and therefore there was no official plan to increase the height of the tower to 180 metres at present. It also insisted that there was no compensation for losing bidders in respect of their preparation costs for their bid. However, as revealed in the Sunday Tribune last week, there is an "arbitration/conciliation process ongoing with one of the parties" to the first competition.

One of the things missed by the newspapers in the authority's accounts, and spotted by TD Chris Andrews was "bad and doubtful debts" of €4.4m. The authority told the Sunday Tribune that this did not relate to an outstanding site payment but instead "is a bad debt provision in respect of normal incomes due such as rents and levies which we believe is prudent in the current environment".

Last week, Brennan and interim chief executive officer Gerry Kelly appeared before an Oireachtas committee on the environment in relation to the DDDA. Committee chairman Sean Fleming pointed out that there were "a lot of ifs and buts and reasonable assumptions" in the accounts, which were published recently and showed a deficit in its consolidated income and expenditure account of €213m. Much of that deficit is in relation to the Becbay site and Brennan has stressed that the non-recourse element of the debt "has moral issues because it is one state company to another state company". The loan, she said, is the authority's biggest challenge.

Fine Gael TD Phil Hogan queried why the authority's accounts and annual report were not published on the same day, saying "that was a very exceptional step to take" but Brennan pointed out that a difficulty in valuing the authority's properties was the reason for the delay.

Tellingly, Brennan said that when she arrived, the "robustness" of the cost-cutting measures were not sufficient. She slammed on the brakes, cutting overheads and expenditure. She found that the culture in the DDDA "was very very pro-developer" and that "planning was used to promote development".

"Anglo Irish Bank did very extensive work with developers" and as a result their "relationship with developers led to the authority having a pro-developer position", Brennan said, adding later that the "association between Anglo Irish Bank and the DDDA has not served the authority well…"

The deficit in the accounts is proof of that.