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The Abbey Theatre Sam Boal/
Abbey Theatre

Dublin City Council is using compulsory purchase orders to buy buildings to expand Abbey Theatre

Plans to expand the theatre were first unveiled in 2017.

COMPULSORY PURCHASE ORDERS (CPOs) are to be carried out on buildings on Eden Quay to allow the Abbey Theatre to expand.

Dublin City Council has lodged planning applications to purchase several buildings on the quay in Dublin city centre using CPOs.

A CPO is a legal function that allows statutory bodies to take possession of land or property without the agreement of the owner.

The buildings in question are 18-21 Eden Quay, 24-26 Abbey Street Lower, and 7, 8 and 20 Old Abbey Street. The Abbey is the leaseholder for the Abbey Street buildings.

The Abbey bought 15-17 Eden Quay in 2012 and purchased 22 and 23 Eden Quay four years later. 

The applications were lodged on 8 July, with the case due to be decided by 13 December.

To carry out the build, the current structure on the corner of Abbey Street and Marlborough Street will be demolished, and the new theatre will be expanded into adjacent premises on Eden Quay and extend towards the River Liffey.

Two larger auditoriums will replace the current Abbey and Peacock spaces, with audience capacities of 700 and 250, respectively. It will also include more facilities for artists, audiences and staff.

A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said those occupying the other buildings will be compensated for the transfer. Once this is agreed between both parties, the council are free to take possession of the buildings. 

One objection has been lodged so far, but the party was not named. The last date to issue an objection is 10 August. 

This latest development has been welcomed by the Abbey Theare. 

A spokesperson said: “The publication of the CPO of a number of sites adjacent to the Abbey’s current properties is a step in the journey towards this future redevelopment.”

“This new national theatre will be a destination for artists to create and collaborate and an accessible hub of activity, for the public to enjoy, throughout the day and evening,” they added. 

The Abbey Theatre, also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, first opened to the public in 1904.

It has been in its current building for over 50 years, and the facilities have been repeatedly criticised as inadequate by performers and staff.

Following ongoing discussions with Dublin City Council, plans for its renovation were first unveiled in 2017. It was subsequently allocated €80 million in state funding by the Department of Culture to carry out the renovation.

“The Abbey theatre, following wide consultation, is currently finalising a feasibility study for an ambitious new national theatre, extending its current site down to Eden Quay on the Liffey,” the Department said in 2018. 

They added that the new building will “honour the history and legacy of the Abbey, while matching the national theatres of other European capital cities.”

No date has been set for builing to commence. 

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