Saturday 17 January 2009

Capital's colossus stalled by recession

PLANS to erect a 46-metre sculpture of a human figure on the River Liffey have been shelved.

Despite An Bord Pleanala yesterday approving a proposal from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) to build the steel sculpture at City Quay, the €1.6m project has been delayed because of the recession.

The sculpture, by Turner prize-winning artist Antony Gormley -- who is best-known for his 'Angel of the North' work in the north of England -- was set to be in place by 2010 close to the Sean O'Casey bridge.

Yesterday, the DDDA said in a statement that the project was being "postponed temporarily", and would be kept "under review, adding that it was "very pleased" with the granting of planning permission.

"The sculpture is an important element of the Docklands Arts Strategy as outlined in its recently adopted 2008 master plan aimed at ensuring that arts and culture become part of the Docklands identity to enhance the area as a place in which to live, work, relax and be entertained," it said.

"However, given the current economic environment, the Docklands Authority will not be proceeding with this development. The project will be kept under review and the Docklands Authority will continue working with the artist and others to progress the design."

The project, which attracted the ire of local residents who claimed it would overshadow their homes, was granted a 10-year planning permission, which means it could still go ahead in the next decade.

Objectors claimed the massive work, which will be 10 metres shorter than Liberty Hall and the same height as the Statue of Liberty, would dominate views of Dublin Bay from the city centre and relegate existing buildings to 'bit players'.

In its decision, An Bord Pleanala granted permission but said a review of the project's impact on the River Liffey -- in particular salmon numbers -- would have to take place before 2019. If it was found to have a negative impact, it would have to be removed.

Such conditions are standard, particularly in relation to quarries and mobile phone masts.

The DDDA said: "Projects such as the London Eye, and indeed the Eiffel Tower, were originally granted temporary planning permission. We see the time limit as being an important part of the public debate and consultation."

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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