18th December

Residents say ‘no’ to seafront high rise

A vote on controversial plans to redevelop the sea baths in Dún Laoghaire Co Dublin has been postponed until October to allow officials time to reply to queries raised by Councillors, and to report on public feedback" the majority of which is opposed to all or elements of the plan.

At the latest meeting, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown county manager Derek Brady had recommended that Councillors accept one of the four modified options, each showing a reduction in height and scale.

Protesters at the street rally in June 2005 opposing the plan to redevelop the sea  baths in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photo Gillian Mills/Inshore Ireland

Protesters at a street rally in June 2005 opposing the plan to redevelop the sea baths in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin. Photo Gillian Mills

All four options remove the 36 social and affordable units, which the manager said could be relocated to another part of the town. The remarkprovoked anger amongst some Councillors who said it presented an air of ‘exclusivity’.

 

The Councillors have directed the manager to examine other sources to fund the project other than through commercial residential units, the inclusion of which has been a major criticism of the redevelopment plan.

People power
Protests and a street rally in June secured more than 10,000 signatures opposed to plan. “A scaled-down version or any development that includes privatisation of the seafront is not acceptable,” Richard Boyd-Barrett, Save our Seafront chairperson said.

The plan involves reclamation of almost six acres of foreshore to provide space for a swimming and leisure complex, maritime garden, 180 apartments and restaurants. The €140 million project also proposes a 10-storey circular glass tower with viewing platform, a plaza for open air events and a promenade to link the Forty Foot swimming area and the East Pier.

Nicola Sarratt, SOS, also rejected the Council’s suggestion that apartments were needed to fund the project. “At a time when there is more money in this country than ever before, we can certainly afford to build a public swimming amenity without destroying a beautiful piece of our coastline.” 

The Sandycove and Glasthule Residents Association say the plan is out of proportion with existing buildings, would block the sea view and would damage the coastal environment. “And what precedent would it set for the ten other development sites identified in the County Development Plan?” it asks.

A public display of the plans set out on panels was also criticised: “It is crucial that the Council prepares a scale model. Only when we have this will we be able to see a true depiction of what it will look like in the context of other buildings,” a spokesperson commented.

Political concerns
Speaking at the protest march, Green Party TD Ciarán Cuffe said the party would favour a modest development “in keeping with the town” and that it should be possible to reopen the baths without having to sell off the site to the private sector.

Labour spokesman for the environment, Eamon Gilmore, said he had concerns about how the proposed infill would impact on the coastal environment. “The Council should work on an appropriate, proportional development for the site in consultation with local people.

“I am pleased that the Council is taking more time to consider the plans. Development of this key location should not be rushed. Time is needed to absorb and act on the many submissions made by the public. The Council needs to listen to the public on this issue.”

Deputy Gilmore told Inshore Ireland that the Aarhus Convention* was relevant to the Dún Laoghaire Baths issue. “Ireland has not yet signed up to the Convention in full. This is something I spoke about during a recent Dáil Debate.”

“I also regret that Council management is using social and affordable housing as a ‘bargaining chip’ in this debate. A major question over the proposed development is whether there should be any residential development on the site at all,” he said

 *The Aarhus Convention is the world’s most far-reaching treaty on environmental rights. It seeks to promote greater transparency and accountability among governmental bodies by guaranteeing public rights of access to environmental information and involvement in decision-making.

The Convention came into force in October 2001. Thirty-nine European countries and the European Community have signed up. Despite ratification by the Community, all member states are not automatically parties. Germany, Greece, Luxembourg, Slovakia, Sweden and Ireland are yet to ratify.

Local Coastal Plan, 2002

[Key elements to consider in context of the proposed plans]

2.1 Land use, derelict and underused sites
Within the area of the Coastal Plan, pockets of dereliction exist. Sites identified include […] Dun Laoghaire Baths and Glasthule Baths. It is an objective of this Coastal Plan to: Redevelop existing derelict sites in a manner that is compatible with the character of the area especially in the context of existing heights and materials.

2.7 Environmental Designations
It is important that any development that takes place within the coastal zone does not adversely affect these areas…

The County Development (1998) states, inter alia:
 
‘When considering development plans in Dun Laoghaire, the Council will have regard to the visual impact such development will have on the surrounding area when viewed from the east and west piers of Dún Laoghaire Harbour’ and

It is the policy of the Council that any new structures within or adjoining Dun Laoghaire Harbour should be designed so as to respect the character of the 19th century buildings and structures of the harbour, the robust materials of the piers and the general marine environment.

7. Sandycove and Glasthule
‘To promote the development of a water leisure centre at Dun Laoghaire Baths which is in keeping with the character of the seafront.’

‘Views from the coast road to be sea are protected.’


The Kingstown District Council built Dún Laoghaire Baths between 1905 and 1911, replacing the Royal Victorian Baths constructed in 1843, on a rocky escarpment fronting on to Queen's Road and opposite the People's Park. The baths were closed in the 1980s and since 1997, 48 individual plans and two architectural competitions to develop the site have been rejected on various grounds including privatisation and height.

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