Saturday 23 February 2008

Plan for Dún Laoghaire baths gets guarded welcome

Proposals to redevelop Dún Laoghaire baths as part of a €129 million scheme to provide new beach and aquatic facilities at Sandycove were given a guarded welcome by local councillors and the campaign group Save Our Seafront.

Save Our Seafront, which in recent years opposed public- private partnership plans to redevelop the baths, said it did not see why the redevelopment scheme for the baths had been linked to a separate plan to establish a Sandycove to Sutton promenade around Dublin Bay, which it said appeared to have inflated the overall costs.

Save Our Seafront spokesman Richard Boyd Barrett said however that the scheme represented a "180 degree turnabout" on previous plans to redevelop the baths with the inclusion of a multi-storey apartment block.

Consultants Royal Haskoning and Murray & Associates yesterday presented councillors with the main findings and recommendations in their feasibility study on the "East Pier to Sandycove coastal amenity project".

Two different concept schemes were drawn up for the purpose of discussion, with agreement that both concepts would be put on public display.

Concept A is known as the "Dún Laoghaire lagoon" and involves a lagoon beach constructed adjacent to the East Pier, with an "aquatic play area" on the old baths site, among other facilities. Concept B would involve the creation of a new artificial beach at Newtownsmith beach and the construction of offshore and shore-connected breakwaters approximately 250m offshore. Both concepts incorporate parts of the Sutton to Sandycove promenade.

Mr Boyd Barrett told The Irish Times that while Save Our Seafront welcomed the public facilities, the group had a number of significant questions about the development and was disappointed not to have been given copies of the plans. He claimed that plans had been deliberately kept from the group to "stage manage the launch".

However, Cllr Jane Dillon Byrne, who chaired the council's baths subcommittee which briefed the consultants, said the proposals were only conceptual and public comment was actively being sought. Ms Dillon Byrne said she had also opposed the previous public-private partnership proposals for the baths as the council had wished to keep the coastal side of the coast road free from development.

The problem with Dún Laoghaire baths had been that they were "in the shade for most of the day, unlike Blackrock baths. But at least the concept put forward now seems to have the swimming areas where they would get direct sunshine". Referring to the baths' dilapidated condition, she said it was clear that something needed to be done.

But she insisted that public access rather than commercial gain would have to be the over-riding criteria and she called for people to make positive suggestions for public use of the site. "Unfortunately, we have people who are usually against everything while being in favour of nothing," she added.

The Irish Times

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