Local residents have lodged objections to a €26m plan by the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) to upgrade its famous showgrounds and expand spectator capacity by nearly 3,000 people.

Plans for the modernisation of the RDS Showgrounds/Arena – which houses the annual Dublin Horse Show and Leinster Rugby home fixtures – were lodged last month and seek to rebuild the outdated Anglesea Stand and increase the Arena’s capacity from 18,500 spectators to 21,000.

The RDS has claimed the redevelopment will create a top-class experience for fans and positively impact on the Dublin Horse Show, Leinster Rugby and other events held in the main arena. 

Planning documents lodged with the application state the annual economic impact from the staging of rugby matches, concerts and the Horse Show amounts to between €136m and €166m per year.

The document states the direct spend by rugby supporters for Leinster’s home Pro 12 games is €1.9m per match and the economic impact would be around €3.6m to €5.5m per match. 

The plan involves the demolition of the existing 1930’s Anglesea Stand and its replacement with a new stand to accommodate 6,841 fans - up from the present 5,743 - and hospitality areas including corporate dining facilities and the ‘Pocket Bar’. 

The RDS first opened its doors to rugby union in October 2005 and the venue became the official home of Leinster in the 2007-08 season when the province signed a 20-year lease with the RDS.

However, in a strenuous objection, the Anglesea Road Residents’ Association said “the residents experience daily disruption from the 400-plus events now held annually at the RDS.” 

The Association’s secretary, Tim Hennessy writes: “This number has increased exponentially in the last number of years with access and parking now becoming unbearable obstacles to residents.

It is now quite clear that in order to be commercially viable there will be an increase in commercial activity to justify the building cost of this stand. The presence of Leinster Rugby has been particularly disruptive to residents, with large numbers of families attending matches seeking parking locally.”

He added Leinster Rugby should be located to a “more suitable ground”.

In a submission in support of the application, IRFU chief executive Philip Browne states the redeveloped Anglesea Stand “will enhance and rejuvenate the Anglesea Stand which is no longer compatible with visitor expectations”.

A decision is due by the Council on the application next month.


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