Thursday 22 March 2018

Proposed €15m development of Dublin's Hellfire Club could do 'untold damage' to the area, TD claims

Hell Fire Club, Dublin Mountains. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Hell Fire Club, Dublin Mountains. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Kathy Armstrong

Proposals for a €15 million tourism development at Dublin's Hellfire Club could do "untold damage" to the area and would leave local residents facing traffic gridlocks, a Fine Gael TD has claimed.

South Dublin County Council (SDCC) hope to build a tourism centre, with a viewing platform on the historic site, as well as a cafe and a car park, which they say could attract up to 300,000 visitors per year.

However local Fine Gael TD Colm Brophy said that the area would not be capable of handling such an influx of people.

Speaking on Newstalk Breakfast, Deputy Brophy said: "I would have no problem if what was being proposed was a gateway for people to go up walking into the Dublin Mountains, historically that's one of the things that the Hellfire Club has been.

"But that's a very misleading term, what's actually being proposed is a viewing platform visitor's centre, it's important to remember that the figure being proposed is 300,000 visitors every year.

"So what you're looking at is 300,000 people coming in coaches or cars who are coming up, viewing over Dublin, taking a look and then going back towards the city centre.

Inside the Hell Fire Club, Dublin Mountains. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Inside the Hell Fire Club, Dublin Mountains. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

"There are better locations within the confines of the Dublin hills and mountains if you wanted something like this, that would enable better access and road usage."

He also said he would like to see the site developed but on a smaller scale than the proposed SDCC plan.

"What would be better for the Hellfire is a very limited development that would protect the structure, that would allow for better access to the hills but doing so in a way that is fitting in with the environment and not destroying what is there.

"In my opinion you cannot build this building, you cannot put those kind of numbers in without doing untold damage to the Hellfire," Deputy Brophy said.

The Dublin South-West representative said that if the development goes ahead then locals will face nightmare traffic jams.

He said: "We all feel that this is far too big, it's too intrusive and at the heart of it there are some major issues, particularly for me concerning how you would manage the traffic based on the projected numbers.

"I think that South Dublin County Council has put forward a scheme that could lead to a permanent gridlock situation on weekends and busy summer days if they got anywhere near the type of visitor numbers they are projecting.

"These are quite small, rural roads."

Fine Gael's Colm Brophy
Fine Gael's Colm Brophy

A spokesman for SDCC said that submissions relating to the project can be lodged with An Bord Pleanala until 5pm on March 1.

He said: "An application for the proposed Dublin Mountains Visitor Centre Project has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála.

"We understand that there has been 115 submissions made to An Bord Pleanála to date but it would not be appropriate for the Council to comment further on projects under consideration by the Board.

"In the meantime, South Dublin County Council would encourage members of the public to learn more about the rationale and details of the project by visiting our dedicated project website."

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