Hell Fire Club visitor centre costing €19 million planned

Council asks Bord Pleanála to make environmental direction

The Hell Fire Club. The planned visitors’ centre  would include a visitor facilities building, a glass-fronted cafe looking out over Dublin Bay, and a kiosk, shop, toilets and changing rooms.

The Hell Fire Club. The planned visitors’ centre would include a visitor facilities building, a glass-fronted cafe looking out over Dublin Bay, and a kiosk, shop, toilets and changing rooms.

 

South Dublin County Council is seeking a direction from An Bord Pleanála on its plans for a €19 million visitor centre at the Hell Fire Club in the Dublin mountains.

The council and forestry agency Coillte want to create a tourist attraction on a site surrounding the ruins of the 18th-century hunting lodge on Montpelier Hill as a “gateway” to the Dublin mountains.

The development would include a visitor facilities building with an audio-visual and exhibition space, a glass-fronted cafe looking out over Dublin Bay, and a kiosk, shop, toilets and changing rooms.

There would also be a treetop canopy footbridge linking Montpelier Hill Massy’s Wood forests over the R115 Old Military Road.

As part of the Dublin Mountains Project the council plans to undertake conservation work to the Hell Fire Club, a protected structure and national monument structure built around 1725, as well as repairs and protection measures to two ancient passage tombs discovered last year at the site.

The work may need to include measures to restrict access to the Hell Fire Club at times to prevent further damage to the building, for example by fire or graffiti, the council said.

Mixed forest

The development of a mixed forest to replace 26 hectares of commercial conifer plantations, and improved walkways and trails, is also planned.

The council has sought direction from An Bord Pleanála on whether it needs to undertake an environmental impact assessment (EIA) on the development. If the council submits an EIA to the board, the public would be able to lodge objections to the scheme.

The council has taken the unusual step of recommending the board directs it to undertake an EIA.

In a letter to the board, consultants acting for the council said the proposed interventions “constitute an extensive development of visitor access improvements, visitor facilities, cultural heritage conservation and interpretation measures, and landscape enhancements – with significant potential environmental effects”.

It added: “As a result of concern being expressed by some members of the public and public representatives over potential significant environmental effects of the proposed development, SDCC is anxious to give assurance to these parties that (a) EIA will be carried out, and (b) that An Bord Pleanála and not SDCC itself will be the determining authority on any application for development.”