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Company part-owned by Bono secures approval for controversial redevelopment in Dalkey

It is unclear if the project will go ahead as ABP directed that plans for a third-floor pavilion, walkway and garden be omitted.

Visualisation of the Piazza in the proposed plans for Dalkey Tramyard.
Visualisation of the Piazza in the proposed plans for Dalkey Tramyard.
Image: Project Orange Architects

A COMPANY PART-owned by U2’s lead singer Bono has secured planning permission for a controversial new development in the heart of Dalkey, which it was claimed could turn the Dublin village into a new Temple Bar.

However, it is unclear if the project will go ahead as An Bord Pleanála directed that plans for a third-floor pavilion, walkway and garden be omitted from the proposed redevelopment of the former tram terminus in the centre of Dalkey.

The Dalkey Community Council and several local residents had appealed the decision of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council to approve the proposed redevelopment of The Tramyard on Castle Street in Dalkey by development firm, Clós Nua.

However, the company, which is one-third owned by Bono who lives in nearby Killiney, had also appealed a planning condition imposed by the council requiring it to scale back its plans for the site.

The developers claim the pavilion, which can provide seating for over 110 people, is an integral part of the project and a focal point of the scheme.

They pointed out that they had already reduced the area of the top floor by 55% to address concerns raised by council planners so that neighbouring properties would not be overlooked or overshadowed by the use of “a sensitive and high quality design.”

Clós Nua, which is also one-third owned by Belfast-born hotelier and property developer Paddy McKillen Snr, wants to demolish most of the existing buildings apart from protected structures in the tramyard in order to develop a three-storey over basement building consisting of a bar/restaurant, café, health centre, retail kiosks and cultural spaces as well as offices and a public plaza.

dalkey Visualisation in the plan for the proposed development in Dalkey. Source: Project Orange Architects

“The pavilion element is essential to the design strategy of the overall scheme. We consider it to be a significant missed opportunity to provide a leading public realm and cultural hub in Dalkey if these elements are omitted,” consultants for Clós Nua said in its appeal.

Although Clós Nua submitted an alternative design which omitted the pavilion, it stressed that it was “not considered the appropriate option.”

The company claims the redevelopment of the tramyard will “add to the vibrancy of the town centre in Dalkey and provide the community with many amenities currently lacking from the town”.

Clos Nua bought the 0.8 acre site for a reported €3m in 2018.

It was formerly the location of the Tramyard Café and a food, antique and bric-a-brac market as well as for a number of cultural events.

Subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions including the omission of the pavilion and rooftop garden, the board said the proposed development would not seriously injure the visual amenities of the area or residential properties in the vicinity.

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A planning inspector with An Bord Pleanála said the omission of the third floor was essential in order to protect the architectural character of the Dalkey Architectural Conservation Area.

The inspector considered the alternative design offered by Clós Nua would provide “a more appropriate balance between maximising the potential of the site and protecting the amenities of the area”.

She claimed the original plans would create “an overpowering visual presence” and would be “incongruous” with the built character of Dalkey.

“This is a unique and extremely sensitive site and its impact will be very significant to the wider area of Dalkey,” the inspector said.

Among opponents of the project were the Dalkey Community Council, An Taisce and the Queen’s pub in Dalkey.

One appellant, Gerard Irvine, an architect, said: “The whole prospect of a new ‘Temple Bar’ in the centre of our town by single-minded developers who do not live in the immediate locality and wish for commercial reasons to make Dalkey a ‘destination’ has little merit.”

About the author:

Seán McCárthaigh

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