Friday 21 March 2008

Council says yes to spa plan for Clontarf Baths

A €10 million plan to turn Clontarf Baths into a luxury day spa and swimming pool has been approved by Dublin City Council.

Former Olympic swimmer Stephen Cullen has secured permission to demolish the sheds at the baths and build a luxury day spa with 18 treatment rooms and a 15-metre swimming pool.

The building, by Italian architect Francesco Beia, is designed to give the impression that is is floating on water, says Cullen.

Beia was responsible for the design of the Seafield Golf and Spa Hotel in Gorey, Co Wexford which is also owned by Cullen and his brother David. He was also responsible for the design of the Dolce & Gabbana headquarters in Milan.

The one-storey over basement building will also incorporate a vitality pool with sliding glass doors opening out to the sea, speciality showers, heat treatment rooms, wet relaxation area, gym, yoga area, café and hair salon.

Laid out over 3,400sq m (37,000sq ft) the spa will be run under the OCEO spa brand that the brothers have developed at the Seafield hotel, which opened last year.

Originally built in 1864, the baths closed in the early 1990s and are now derelict. Cullen says he wants to create a "modern version" of the recreation facility.

Cullen purchased the baths in 1997 and has been attempting to develop the site since then. Initially he intended to develop an indoor leisure centre at the baths. This plan, however, was abandoned when Westwood leisure centre, with its 50-metre pool, was built in nearby Fairview.

Subsequent plans to turn the baths into a two-storey restaurant, tea rooms, gourmet food store and exhibition complex were refused by An Bord Pleanála on two occasions.

Given the level of opposition to the scheme, it is likely that the current proposal will be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. Among objectors to the spa were local TDs Seán Haughey and Ivor Callely and environment group Dublin Bay Watch.

The Irish Times

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