Ireland. Ceisteanna - Questions - Priority Questions Heritage Sites
Friday, 21 October 2016
5. To ask the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht her plans for the protection of the Georgian graving docks in the Grand Canal basin; and if she will make a commitment to safeguard and improve the site, with a particular focus on Georgian heritage conservation. [31308/16]
The graving docks in the Grand Canal basin, near to here, are a very special place and arguably the most important point in the entire inland waterways system. All local representatives share real concerns over the plans of Inland Waterways Ireland to sell the lands to allow for development. This would be a fundamental mistake and would not just be throwing the baby out with the bathwater; it would be throwing the bath out. It is a highly sensitive location and while a huge amount of docklands development is right and necessary, we must maintain key open places that preserve a heritage which provides a local environment everybody can use. We will lose this opportunity if the land is sold and I ask if the Minister intends to intervene.
The graving docks in the Grand Canal basin are located in the site known as city block 19. I am advised by Waterways Ireland that this site is being considered for development in partnership with the private sector. Development will be in accordance with the North Lotts and Grand Canal dock strategic development zone, SDZ, planning scheme for the area.
The SDZ outlines the nature and extent of proposed developments permissible within this site with a use mix of 40% residential, 30% commercial and 30% community. Waterways Ireland believes there is an opportunity, in how the community element of the planning designation for the site is delivered, to celebrate and sustain the maritime and inland waterways heritage of the wider area and the graving docks.
The Waterways Ireland action plan for Grand Canal dock and Spencer dock sets out the body's proposals to ensure that both docks are developed to deliver their full potential to the city of Dublin and to the wider canal network. The plan is available on the Waterways Ireland website at.
Waterways Ireland has recently appointed a programme manager to drive forward delivery of this action plan and is committed to delivering the Grand Canal and Spencer docks as amenities in the city, with the maximum recreational benefit to local people and visitors alike.
Do I take it that Inland Waterways will not sell these lands? They are three individual docks which originally were for people to work on canal boats. There is a small one, a medium-sized one and a large one about the size of this room and all three are threatened with sale. Is the Minister saying these Georgian pieces of infrastructure, built in the late 18th century, are to be preserved as part of the development plan for the area? Is she saying that Inland Waterways are going to start to treat this part of our infrastructure with some care? At the moment the locks beside this area are in a woeful state and the three docks themselves are in utter disrepair. They are in the middle of the busiest, most built-up area of the city and if they were in London, Paris or any other city they would be a centrepiece of urban development, an outdoor meeting place which treasured the Georgian heritage of the city. Instead, it has been left to go to rack and ruin. Is the Minister saying all three graving docks will be preserved under the Waterways Ireland plans or that only 30% of the area will be preserved?
Decisions on the future of the graving docks are a matter for the planning authority, in this case Dublin City Council and Waterways Ireland, which owns the site. The graving docks are located in the site known as city block 19 in the Grand Canal docks and are being considered for development in partnership with the private sector. Development will be in accordance with the North Lotts and Grand Canal dock strategic development zone and it is primarily a matter for Dublin City Council, and An Bord Pleanála as applicable, to make decisions relating to the strategic and sustainable development of the area, which includes the historic built environment. The SDZ outlines the nature and extent of proposed developments permissible within this site and any pending development proposals will be referred to my Department as a statutory consultee within the planning process.
I take it that this will be sold, because the SDZ allows for the development of the site. It seems that Waterways Ireland wants to spend the money in other parts of the network and does not care about the central core of the Georgian network in the centre of Dublin. Why will the Minister not intervene at this stage, rather than in the planning process? Why does she not listen to her representatives from the area who believe this is a terrible mistake and that we are losing value for a key piece of Georgian architecture? We are going back to the mistakes made in the 1960s and 1970s. The Minister has the ability, the power and the motive to have this Georgian architecture preserved rather than sold. If this is decided in the North, on account of the fact that Waterways Ireland is a North-South body, the Minister should go to the next meeting of the North-South Ministerial Council and tell them it is of strategic interest to the city of Dublin and we should not sell it. Why is she letting it proceed to sale when Fine Gael Deputies for the area are of a like mind to me in believing that this makes no sense. This is throwing away Dublin heritage and waterways heritage, and for what purpose?
Waterways Ireland is the owner of this property. It is a cross-Border body and it has many different priorities, all of which have to be balanced.
If this House ##called for Belfast docks or other key infrastructure in the North to be taken out, I have no doubt the Stormont Assembly would stand up for the preservation of its heritage. Why does the Government not want to stand up for the preservation of heritage in the centre of Dublin, which would be of huge economic value to the city?
There are a huge number of pressing priorities with which Waterways Ireland has to deal.
News presented by Cathy McLean
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Last Updated ( Friday, 21 October 2016 )