Monday 20 September 2010

Public hearing opens into RTE's €350m site overhaul

A WEEK-long public hearing into plans by RTE to redevelop its 31-acre Montrose campus in Dublin 4 opens today.

Objections from businessman Dermot Desmond, the German Embassy and An Taisce are expected to dominate the hearing which takes place in the Stillorgan Park Hotel.

The public hearing comes after Dublin City Council approved a €350m plan to redevelop the site last April. The so-called 'Project 2025' will result in the razing of the television building and radio centre, to make way for a new complex to be built over a 15-year period.

But 10 parties have objected, including the German embassy, which has raised security issues with RTE.

An Taisce also says the buildings should not be demolished because they include protected structures of national importance.

Mr Desmond, whose home adjoins the campus, said he was entitled to be "protected from insensitive and inappropriate development".

His rights were not considered by the broadcaster, he said, and his home would be overshadowed if the plans were approved.

RTE will begin giving evidence today, followed by residents' groups. The National Roads Authority will outline concerns about traffic on Wednesday and Thursday, and Mr Desmond's legal team is expected to make its submission on Friday.

If approved, the project would see the gradual replacement of most of the current 1960s and 1970s buildings on the Donnybrook site with a purpose-built 500,000 square foot (46,500 square metre) complex designed for the digital and high-definition age.

It will begin with construction of new high-definition digital TV and digital radio studios, including a new 'Late Late Show' studio that can hold 800 people -- twice the capacity of the current studio.

When complete, the complex will have production areas, rehearsal and performance spaces and staff offices.

An auditorium for the RTE orchestras, which will be available to local groups, is also planned, along with a new entrance from the Stillorgan dual-carriageway.

The building will rise to six storeys on the Stillorgan dual-carriageway side.

The development is being planned because RTE must invest in new digital broadcast production and transmission facilities. But it says housing these new technologies in the current buildings is not feasible because they were built in the 1960s and are unsuitable.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

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