Friday 23 March 2007

Kick-off for Lansdowne planners give thumbs up

An Bord Pleanála yesterday rejected its own inspector's report and decided unanimously to grant planning permission for a 50,000-seat stadium redevelopment at Lansdowne Road.
The board said the main reasons behind its decision related to the historical and long-established use of the site as a stadium combined with its closeness to Dublin city centre and access to public transport in the form of the Dart.
The need for an additional modern stadium in the city and the overall design of the proposed new stadium were also main factors in its decision to grant permission.
The board also highlighted that it was an objective of the National Development Plan "to provide funding for the redevelopment of the stadium".
A total of 23 conditions have been attached to the permission, which are minor in the context of the scope of the proposal.
These include a requirement for the developers to contribute €75,000 a year to local community groups. Two of the exits from the grounds will be closed to the public, except in cases of emergencies.
The stadium is also restricted to three outdoor concerts a year, which is the same number as Croke Park.
Overall the proposal approved by the board provides for a 50,000-seat curved stadium enclosing all four sides of the ground. Three sides of the stadium will rise to four tiers.
There will be 10,000 premium seats in the second tier, with a further 1,500 box places in the third, all of which are to be sold in advance to contribute towards the €350 million cost of the stadium.
The Government is providing €190 million of the redevelopment costs.
There will also be extensive conference facilities in the new stadium, to allow it to be hired out for non-sporting events.
In announcing its decision, the board made no reference to the stadium's height, which was the most controversial aspect of the proposal.
When built, it will rise to a height of just under 50 metres, which will make it 15 metres taller than Croke Park.
The board also rejected the two main conclusions of the inspector, that there was a more suitable site at Ringsend, and that the stadium would have too great a negative effect on residents close to the redevelopment.
The board said that, contrary to the opinion of the inspector, it "was not satisfied that a more suitable site for a stadium can currently be provided".
In relation to the impact on residents close to the stadium, the board members said there was already an impact from the existing stadium which they took into account.
They concluded that "the residual impacts on residential property would not be sufficient to warrant a refusal of permission and did not agree with the inspector's conclusion that permission should be refused on this account".
They rejected the inspector's concerns about access to the stadium, and said they "did not agree that permission should be refused for reasons related to this factor".
The board also "noted the inspector's criticisms regarding the contribution of the proposed development to the urban landscape and public urban space, but considered that a successful stadium project would provide opportunities for future enhancement of the public realm".
Liam Reid
© 2007 The Irish Times

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