U2 visitor centre would have 'devastating impact' on Dublin Docklands, say objectors

U2’s planned visitor centre for Dublin has been branded "oppressive, intimidating and unattractive" with concerns that it will have “a devastating impact" on the Docklands area and its residents.

U2 visitor centre would have 'devastating impact' on Dublin Docklands, say objectors

By Gordon Deegan

U2’s planned visitor centre for Dublin has been branded "oppressive, intimidating and unattractive" with concerns that it will have “a devastating impact" on the Docklands area and its residents.

That is the damning verdict on the planned centre by consultants for property investment firm Carysfort Capital which is leading the charge against the U2 visitor centre for Hanover Quay getting the green light from Dublin City Council.

The deadline for objections has just passed and joining Carysfort Capital in opposing the plan are 63 residents from Hanover Quay coming together to say ‘No’ to the plan.

The four-storey building is to include a reconstruction of the band’s original studio and various themed exhibit areas that include a series of abstract scenes such as ‘the Music Room’ and ‘Larry’s Kitchen'.

The application by Paddy McKillen Snr’s Golden Brook Ltd and U2’s MHEC Ltd also includes a cafe, auditorium, reception and area for selling merchandising.

The promoters state that the centre “will make the Dublin’s Docklands and Grand Canal Dock a destination experience for the millions of U2 fans around the world”.

They state that the development will create “a world class tourist attraction featuring a permanent, yet constantly evolving, exhibition of the U2 story on the site they recorded six albums”.

However, in their objection lodged on their behalf by the board of 5-7 Hanover Quay (Residential) Management Company CLG, the 63 residents argue that the proposed centre “will create significant amenity issues for adjoining properties including overshadowing of apartments”.

The residents state that the planned visitor centre “is wholly unsuitable at this location” and claim that the proposed architectural and elevational treatment along Hanover Quay “will be visually oppressive for existing and future residents of the adjoining apartments”.

In total, the application is facing 10 objections against and six submissions in favour.

In June, Carysfort Capital purchased the nearby 120-apartment development Six Hanover Quay (6HQ) for €101m working out at €800,000 per unit.

The block is currently being built and overlooks the U2 site.

However in a strident objection against the centre, planning consultants for Carysfort Capital, McGill Planning state that, if granted, the U2 visitor centre “will leave a profound and long term effect on the character of the Grand Canal Dock area”.

The consultants state that “the chosen design and architectural language is simply not appropriate for this location and should be refused”.

McGill Planning state that the planned four-storey "monolithic" U2 visitor centre “presents a significant and unsympathetic urban edge to Hanover Quay”.

McGill Planning also claim that the planned U2 visitor centre “lacks any concern for the amenities of future residents of the adjoining 6HQ scheme”.

The planning consultants state that instead, the 14.4m high U2 visitor centre “will present a significant, permanent and detrimental visual barrier for residents of the lower floor of the apartment scheme”.

McGill Planning state that the “negative visual impact of the proposed sheer concrete slab cannot be overstated”.

The consultants for Carysfort Capital also point out that the U2 centre has the potential to attract significant numbers of visitors given the success of U2 over the past 40 years.

McGill Planning state that similar numbers of visitors to the U2 centre which visit other attractions in Dublin such as Dublin Castle and the Book of Kells “would cause traffic and access chaos in the vicinity”.

McGill state: “It is evident that such a location is not suitable for such a facility and intensity of use.”

McGill Planning also state that “there is genuine concern from our client and adjoining landowners that the proposed development, is granted, will have a devastating impact on the character of the area and on the amenities of its neighbours”.

APTIV Global Operations Ltd occupies the 60,000 sq ft of office space of the top three storeys at the nearby 5 Hanover Quay and has told the Council that the planned visitor centre “could cause traffic chaos and public safety concerns” due to the numbers that may visit it.

However, the plan has the backing of Fáilte Ireland, the Dublin Chamber of Commence and the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF).

They have all lodged submissions in support of the planned centre. CEO of Dublin Chamber Mary Rose Burke has told the Council that the chamber “believes that the proposed development will significantly enhance Dublin’s tourism offering”.

She said: “U2 are one of Dublin’s - and indeed Ireland’s - biggest global success stories and it is fitting that there will be an attraction of substance in their home city that both celebrates and showcases their achievements”.

Fáilte Ireland state that it is very supportive of the development and the location would provide an exciting new attraction for the Dublin Docklands.

A decision is due on the application later this month.

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