***23/March/2015 See update at the end of this post
Dún Laoghaire Baths have been derelict and neglected for many years. Despite several proposals for this site, it remains locked up and untouched. You would be forgiven for thinking that the council had forgotten about the Baths but in fact the plans are approved and the finance is available.
Before the work can start, the council needs a foreshore licence from the Department of the Environment. It applied in November 2013 and one year later, there is no indication of when this licence will be granted.
There is also a question over the title to the site. The council has requested assistance from the Chief State Solicitor’s Office, but like the foreshore licence, there is no response yet. Neither of these bodies have any statutory limit on how long they take to process a request, so the project is left hanging. In October, councillors directed the Chief Executive of their council to write to these bodies stressing the importance of the project.
So what is proposed?
The council approved plans in 2012 for a modest scheme to reconstruct the area around the Dun Laoghaire Baths on the seafront, near the People’s Park.
The plans involved demolishing the old concrete baths buildings and preserving the old Pavilion near to the road. A new walkway would be constructed allowing people to walk from the East Pier to Newtownsmith. There would be a swimming pier.
These plans went through a public consultation process and were approved by the council (but no consent was required or sought from any outside body like An Bord Pleanála).
I like this plan. The existing buildings are derelict and attracting anti-social activities. Newtownsmith is very popular with walkers so completing the route to the pier will connect Sandycove and Dún Laoghaire in a beautiful way. The price – €2m to €3m – is reasonable.
The Recent History of the Baths
In the 1980s, the Baths were called the “Rainbow Rapids” and fitted with two huge corkscrew water slides.
In 1997 the baths were closed. For the next ten years, the council produced various outlandish proposals to construct apartment towers on the site at a projected cost of over €100m. The plans were angrily rejected by the public and the council backed down.
In 2012 the current plans were approved.
What can be done to clear the legal hurdles?
The council should look at taking out a insurance policy against defective title as offered by companies like IFG. Alternatively they could request a CPO (compulsory purchase order) and allow that process to uncover whether anyone was contesting the title.
You can see the original leasehold and freehold titles here:
The scheme might be divided into two parts: the portion that affects the foreshore and the portion that doesn’t. (The foreshore is the part of a shore between high- and low-water marks)
All the foreshore licence application documents are here on the Department of Environment’s web site.
The council could then carry out the non-foreshore work while waiting for the foreshore grant.
I will raise these suggestions with the council executive.
The council has finally resolved its legal and licence problems with central government and will now proceed to a public consultation in order to gain planning approval. This process will take up to the end of September. The project will then go out to tender. Construction will then take about a year with an eventual opening date of mid 2017.