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  • Southside

Mixed reaction to Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre plan

Friday, 25th August, 2017 8:00am
Mixed reaction to Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre plan

An artist’s impression of the new Dublin Mountain Visitor Centre.

Mixed reaction to Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre plan

An artist’s impression of the new Dublin Mountain Visitor Centre.

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A PLANNING application for the proposed Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre that has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála recently has received a mixed reaction on the Southside.

The joint development proposal by South Dublin County Council, Coillte and the Dublin Mountains Partnership is to create a new “gateway” to the Dublin Mountains at the combined Massy’s Wood/Estate and Montpelier Hill.

Incorporating the legendary Hell Fire Club site and coming in at an estimated cost of €15 million, the plan envisages that the centre will be constructed from natural materials and integrated into the landscape setting with extensive panoramic views of Dublin City.

“The Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre development is founded on a vision that the history, landscape, heritage and amenity of the Dublin Mountains should be promoted as a resource for the enjoyment of the people of South Dublin and for visitors to the area from elsewhere in Ireland and abroad,” a South Dublin County Council statement reads.

“The project will also provide long-term economic benefits by increasing tourism, generating additional spend on local goods and services and creating new employment opportunities in South Dublin County.”

The visitor centre will comprise a dedicated interpretative exhibition and educational facility as well as a café and shop, a rambler’s lounge and toilets.

There will be enhanced access to the site with increased car parking and public transport, road improvements and the construction of a new footpath to the site. 

The proposal will also deliver improved quality and quantity of walks and trails for people of all ages and abilities incorporating an iconic tree-top walkway/bridge from Montpelier Hill into Massy’s Wood.

The submission of the planning application follows extensive public/stakeholder engagement by South Dublin County Council and Coillte.

The council says this process enabled the project team to take into account key local issues raised and incorporate them into the design plans.

This ensured the preservation of the landscape, ecology and heritage features of the unique, natural and made environment of the Dublin Mountains in a manner that is socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.

The proposed Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre has been designed by a multi-disciplinary project team led by Paul Keogh Architects.

Members of the public should make their submissions on the planning application directly to An Bord Pleanála.

Templeogue-Terenure Councillor Enda Fanning (SF) said the project will be good for the Southside, for Dublin as a whole, and for Irish tourism.

“In my opinion, it is an exciting project which has involved a great deal of background work and consultations before a final design was reached,” he      said.

“Following on from a feasibility study in 2016 the Montpellier Hill/Massy’s Woods site was selected from a number of sites inspected.

“The site chosen was endorsed by councillors and it is important to note that public input was obtained by way of stakeholder meetings, two public open days as well as online consultation.

“In terms of the project details, the development will include secure car parking, the visitor centre, as well as pedestrian and equestrian trails and a tree-top walkway.

“The visitor centre will provide for such facilities as a walkers’ lounge, toilets, lockers, an information office, an interpretive exhibition/education facility and a café with panoramic views over Dublin Bay.

“It is important that people share their opinions with the board and I will certainly be making a submission supporting the project.”

However, the People Before Profit party and the Hell Fire Club Action Group have already organised a solidarity campaign to resist the proposal.

“We are very concerned about the council’s plans and the potential over development of this area,” said Dublin Rathdown People Before Profit representative, Peadar O’Grady.

“We do not want any disturbance of the natural environment in an area that is popular with hillwalkers, local residents and nature lovers,” he said.

“We find the plans objectionable.

“We would much rather the council develop forestry walking trails like those in France and improve public transport links, such as a new bus terminal that fits into the landscape.”

Elizabeth Davidson of Friends of Massy’s Wood who is also part of the Hellfire Club Action Group said the “vast development” was totally inappropriate.

“It runs contrary to the development plan to preserve and to protect the natural amenity,” she insisted.

“It will destroy the face of the mountainside in my opinion and it will destroy the ecology.”

Elizabeth Davidson of the Hell Fire Action Group is pictured with People Before Profit councillors Madeline Johansson and Peadar O’Grady

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here