DISAPPOINTMENT has greeted the announcement that much of the famous Blackrock Baths are to be demolished.
Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council intends to demolish a significant portion of the 19th century public baths site.
The council said that following an inspection it has moved to address serious public safety issues associated with the structures and diving platform at the site.
The local authority said the structures at the derelict bathing complex have suffered from extensive weather damage and erosion caused by the sea, making the structures and adjoining land dangerous for members of the public.
“The pool structure is beyond repair and the seating and changing block, which is constructed of structural steel clad in concrete, is in danger of collapse,” a council spokesperson said.
“The inspection also noted that extensive graffiti and rubbish were present in the building, which suggested it is subject to regular unauthorised access. It was also confirmed that it is not feasible to secure the structures so as to prevent unauthorised access.”
The council said that the county architect had determined that the structures on the baths site constitute “dangerous structures”.
“The council is now proceeding to make arrangements to carry out the necessary demolition work, including the removal of the diving platform,” the spokesperson added. “The elements of the structures and pool/sea wall that are not considered to be dangerous will be retained.”
This latest development in the long running Blackrock Baths saga has led to a number of criticisms from local residents and politicians.
Cllr Barry Ward (FG) urged the council to redevelop the site and open it up to the public.
“This is property that is in the charge of the council and they seem to have done absolutely nothing about maintaining it over the last number of years,” he said.
“We should be making the effort now to get the site back into council hands. I one hundred per cent support the idea that his site should become part of a public amenity in Blackrock.”
Karin Dubsky of environmental group Coastwatch Ireland expressed disappointment that the baths will be demolished.
“This site provides scope for intense public use without disturbing wildlife,” she said. “At the same time people can see birds using the area right around the baths, as it is rich in mollusks and worms.”
She added: “Next year we have the EU presidency and the Government has decided to keep most activities in Dublin. Wouldn’t it be super if we had repaired and restored at least part of this historic baths instead of demolishing it?”
Blackrock resident Damien O'Regan, who is also a member of local environmental group Green Ireland, noted that the Blackrock Baths site borders a Special Protection Area (SPA) that was designated under the EU Birds Directive.
He said he was not opposed to the demolition of the baths site but believes the complex is in an environmentally sensitive area and should not be redeveloped.
Instead, he maintains the site should be subsumed into the SPA and the Dun Laoghaire Baths site should be redeveloped instead.
"In my view the baths should form part of the nature reserve in Blackrock that is part of the Special Protection Area for birds,” he said. “I think the Dun Laoghaire Baths has the most potential for redevelopment."
County Manager Owen Keegan said: “As part of the preparation of the Blackrock Local Area Plan proposals are being prepared to make improvements to the seafront, including access at this location, having due regard to Specific Local Objective in the County Development Plan.
“Subject to consultation with the site owners, consideration will be given to what can be done with the remainder of the baths structure and a report will be brought to councillors in due course.”