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A conception of the proposed visitor centre. ODAA

Planning permission for proposed 'world class' U2 visitor centre expires

The band will be required to lodge a new planning application in order to advance the project.

THE FIVE YEAR planning permission for U2’s planned “world class” U2 visitor centre and exhibition space for Dublin’s docklands has now expired.

Plans by U2 firm, MHEC Ltd and businessman, Paddy McKillen Snr’s company, Golden Brook Ltd were first lodged in 2018.

Planning permission was secured from Dublin City Council in 2019 for the U2 visitor centre and exhibition space at Hanover Quay.

Planning documents lodged with the scheme forecast that the U2 visitor centre would make Dublin’s Docklands “a destination experience for the millions of U2 fans around the world” and attract around 390,000 U2 fans to the capital each year.

The visitor centre is to contain exhibit spaces housing memorabilia from U2’s vast musical history including old guitars, performance outfits and paraphernalia from their past.

The project also received backing from the likes of Failte Ireland, Dublin Chamber of Commerce and the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) with IHF CEO Tim Fenn telling the Council that the project “would provide a new and innovative tourism offering that would help position the city as a vibrant destination with a variety of distinct cultural experiences”.

Dublin City Council’s planners also lauded the centre’s design by award winning architects ODAA, stating that it was “a striking and innovative contemporary building” and “would upgrade one of the most prominent locations in the city”.

However, no work on the ground at Hanover Quay has taken place since planning permission was granted.

A spokesman for Dublin City Council has confirmed that a “Commencement Notice was not submitted for this development” which is required to allow construction work start.

A planning condition attached to the permission specified that the applicants had to pay €225,647 in planning contributions, but with no commencement notice submitted, the spokesman said that “no invoice would be raised in relation to any development contributions applicable to this development”.

Despite the absence of building work on the ground in the docklands area, it is understood plans are ongoing for the U2 Visitor Centre.

In order to advance the project, the U2 firm will be required to lodge a new planning application and the timeframe would be quite short as U2 revised their plans in 2018 to meet the concerns of planners.

There is no recourse for a third party appeal to An Bord Pleanála concerning the docklands site.

The expiry of the planning permission follows two years after a company controlled by the members of U2 bought out partner firm in the band’s planned visitor centre scheme, McKillen Snr’s Golden Brook Ltd.

U2’s main firm here, Not Us Ltd, purchased McKillen’s investment property firm, Golden Brook Ltd on 14 February 2022 for €232,283.

A note attached to separate 2021 accounts filed for Golden Brook Ltd show that the firm’s bank loan of €1 million and McKillen’s loan of €800,430 to the firm were fully repaid on the acquisition of the business by Not Us Ltd, where Bono, The Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen each have a 25% shareholding.

Two of the years since planning permission was granted were Covid-19 impacted years, when a number of tourism related projects around the country were mothballed or paused due to uncertainty over the tourism industry globally.

In 2023, U2 band members devoted most of their energies to their successful Las Vegas residency at the Sphere, where 663,000 tickets were sold.

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