Thursday 24 July 2008

Cable car project to seek city council sanction

THE DEVELOPER behind the €90 million "Suas" cable car project for the River Liffey is to seek planning permission from Dublin City Council for the scheme, after failing to secure fast-track planning approval from An Bord Pleanála.

Details of the Suas, which would run from Heuston Station to the docklands and involve the construction of 80m (262ft) towers along its length, were yesterday presented to city councillors ahead of the submission of a planning application.

Developer Barry Boland, formerly a planner with Dublin County Council, last year sought to have the Suas considered under fast-track planning rules which allow strategic infrastructural developments to be determined directly by An Bord Pleanála.

However, the board decided the Suas did not qualify as strategic infrastructure, leaving Mr Boland no option but to apply to the city council.

The Suas would be a tourist attraction rather than a public transport system, Mr Boland said.

"We're trying to create the equivalent of an Eiffel Tower, the London Eye or the Sydney Opera House - the sort of iconic thing that Dublin currently lacks."

Each cable car could carry 30 people and would run every 20 minutes. A round trip would cost €25. Two 80m towers - 20m taller than Liberty Hall - would be built at Marlborough Street and Wood Quay, and 60m towers would be located in the docklands and at Watling Street to support the cable. Mr Boland estimates that one in every eight visitors to Dublin would use the Suas.

Several councillors said they were interested in the project, but stopped short of endorsing it.

"My mind was quite closed to this project, and I would still have a certain scepticism, but my mind is perhaps a little less closed," Labour councillor Emer Costello said.

Sinn Féin's Daithí Doolan said it was good to see a project that was "trying to do something with the Liffey".

Mr Boland said it was up to the planners to decide if it detracted from the skyline. He had wanted the cable cars to be in the shape of a pint of Guinness, but this violated advertising codes.

Mr Boland said he would be ready to submit his planning application within weeks. However, because the city council owns some of the land on which the entrance to the Suas and the towers supporting the cable would be built, he needs to be given permission by the city manager to lodge an application.

A Dublin City Council spokeswoman said Mr Boland would need to seek a pre-planning meeting with the council to detail how he intended to deal with certain issues including access.

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority said it supported the project in principle, pending a decision from the council.

The Irish Times

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