Dublin City Council has announced plans for the development of an open air public swimming pool as a companion project to its controversial €22m white-water rafting facility in the Docklands area.
A site on Custom House Quay has been earmarked for the proposed 50-metre heated, outdoor pool which is estimated could cost €15m.
The council claims the Sea Pool project will held to create a new visitor destination in the Docklands with other attractions including the Jeanie Johnston famine ship, the EPIC diaspora museum and the white-water centre.
“The combination of these amenities will attract families from Dublin and from other parts of Ireland and will give our overseas visitors a new and very healthy option to enjoy their stay in our capital city,” the council said.
A feasibility study established that a site on the northern bank of the River Liffey close to the Seán O’Casey footbridge was the best location for the proposed swimming pool.
Other locations considered but discounted were Spencer Dock, Grand Canal Dock and a section of the quays near the 3 Arena.
The plans envisage the pool will be two metres deep but with an adjustable section to reduce the depth for an area for children.
The pool would contain fresh water heated to 26º C.
The council’s Docklands area manager, Derek Kelly, said the local authority had originally considered incorporating an open air public swimming pool as part of its plans for the white-water rafting facility at George’s Dock but had ruled that is was not possible to locate it within the same site.
The €22m white-water rafting project, which is located adjacent to the IFSC, has generated considerable controversy over its high cost at a time of pressure on the council’s finances and the city’s housing and homelessness crisis.
However, the council’s chief executive, Owen Keegan, said investing in such infrastructure was important for when the tourism sector recovers following the Covid-10 pandemic.
The council said its preferred option would be for the swimming pool project to be developed on a design-build-operate-finance basis following an international competition.
It envisaged that the council and Dublin Port Company would offer a long-term lease of 30 years to the successful bidder after which time the ownership of the swimming pool would be transferred to Dublin City Council.
Although capital expenditure by the winner bidder was likely to be in excess of €15m, the council said they could expect to have revenue of over €100m from a 30-year licence.
Mr Kelly said the choice of location for the swimming pool would be crucial to its success.
“This location would develop Custom House Quay into a hub for water-based recreational activity in the city and will help to achieve the city council’s ambition’s for the animation of water bodies within the Docklands,” said Mr Kelly.
The feasibility study said the Custom House Quay site was an attractive option due to its proximity to the city centre and very good public transport links.
However, it noted that a strong tidal flow was a disadvantage.
Mr Kelly claimed preliminary studies indicated the project was unlikely to have a significant environmental impact.
He pointed out that similar facilities such as the Allas Spa complex in Helsinki, which contains a smaller pool for children, saunas as well as a café and restaurant, attracted annual attendances of 800,000.
Other cities with large outdoor public pools include Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen.
The issue is due to be debated at a meeting of the council’s south-east area committee next Monday.
As the next stage, the council plans to appoint a consultant to develop a brief that would be used for an international call for “expressions of interest” to develop the facility.