Council Welcomes Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre Decision
South Dublin County Council has welcomed the decision of An Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for the Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre which was a key recommendation of the Council’s Tourism Strategy when it was adopted in 2015.
The planned Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre is a joint development by South Dublin County Council, Coillte and the Dublin Mountains Partnership to create a new ‘gateway’ to the Dublin Mountains located at the combined Massy’s Wood /Estate and Montpelier Hill incorporating the legendary Hell Fire Club site. At an estimated cost of €15 million, the centre will be constructed from natural materials and integrated into the landscape setting with extensive panoramic views of Dublin City.
A visitor centre will comprise an 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 walks and trails for people of all ages and abilities incorporating an iconic tree-top bridge from Montpelier Hill into Massy’s Wood.
The proposal provides for the enhancement of the mountain landscape around the visitor centre by replacing large areas of commercial coniferous forest on the eastern slopes of Montpelier Hill with broad-leaved woodland and predominantly trees of indigenous native species.
The submission of the planning application followed extensive public and stakeholder engagement by South Dublin County Council and Coilte. This process enabled the project team to take into account key local issues raised and incorporate them into the design plans, ensuring the preservation of the landscape, ecology and heritage features of the unique and natural environment of the Dublin Mountains in a manner that is socially and environmentally sustainable.
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 approved Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre proposal was designed by a multi-disciplinary project team led by Paul Keogh Architects and included a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Report. The proposal was supported by Fáilte Ireland who has recognised the importance of the development in terms of national and regional tourism strategies and awarded the visitor centre €5m in provisional grant aid.
South Dublin County Council will now look to work with key stakeholders and the local community, including adjacent landowners, to bring the project to fruition. This will include the appointment of a detailed design and delivery team with a focus on meeting the requirements laid out by An Bord Pleanála in their decision.
Councillor Ed O’Brien, Mayor of South Dublin County, said, “This is a very positive development for the Council and in my view for South Dublin in general. An Bord Pleanala’s decision is measured and sets out conditions to ensure that any reservations the community has about the development are dealt with. The project is part of a wider tourism strategy which this County Council has undertaken in the last number of years and the decision allows us to take some of the first steps in delivering on that ambitious strategy. I look forward to seeing this area of great historic significance and natural beauty enhanced by this project for the benefit of all our citizens.”
Daniel McLoughlin, Chief Executive of South Dublin County Council, said, “This is a unique location that combines archaeology, heritage, folklore and natural amenity. This proposal will bring badly needed structure to the management of the area including orientation and interpretation which will both add to the visitor experience as well as addressing issues of amenity provision and heritage protection.“