Thursday 24 April 2008

Plan for Clontarf Baths off to appeals board

DUBLIN BAY WATCH has said that a €10 million plan to turn Clontarf Baths into a luxury day spa and swimming pool would have a "devastating effect" on the adjacent Bull Island, a Special Protected Area (SPA).

In its appeal to An Bord Pleanála on foot of planning permission granted to Abbeybeg Ltd by Dublin City Council, Dublin Bay Watch says that any decision on the baths would be premature pending the publication of two documents - one containing consultation findings by Dublin City Council following the publication of A vision for Dublin Bay and another by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government with proposals for a revised SPA in Dublin Bay.

Abbeybeg Ltd, headed by former Olympic swimmer Stephen Cullen, wants to demolish the sheds at the baths and build a luxury day spa with treatment rooms and a 15-metre swimming pool.

Laid out over 3,400sq m (37,000sq ft), the one-storey over basement building will also have a vitality pool with sliding glass doors opening out to the sea, heat treatment rooms, a gym, yoga area, café and hair salon.

However, Dublin Bay Watch says the building would change "the visual amenity of the promenade" from Alfie Byrne Road to the Bull Wall and says the nearby Westwood gym already caters for Clontarf and the surrounding area.

Originally built in 1864, the baths closed in the early 1990s and are now derelict.

Stephen Cullen purchased the baths in 1997 and attempts 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. Another appeal to An Bord Pleanála by residents of Clontarf Road against redevelopment of the baths refers to the previous refusals by An Bord Pleanála, overturning local authority approval.

"It is a matter of grave concern that Dublin City Council should continue to ignore the widespread objection of the local community as well as very strong signals issued by An Bord Pleanála," says the appeal.

The appeal goes on to say the location is prone to flooding, would obstruct views of the bay currently enjoyed by residents and says a 50-space car-park would be "a further eyesore".

The Irish Times

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