Irish Real Tennis Association lodges appeal against NCH refurbishment

National Children’s Science Centre is to be located on a site beside National Concert Hall on Earlsfort Terrace in Dublin

The Irish Real Tennis Association (IRTA) has lodged a planning appeal against the green light for the proposed €47 million-plus National Children’s Science Centre and refurbishment of parts of the National Concert Hall (NCH).

The appeal by the IRTA is the second lodged with An Bord Pleanála after the actor and writer Pom Boyd last month lodged one against Dublin City Council’s granting of planning permission.

The Office of Public Works (OPW) recently said that the project would cost in excess of €47 million because of construction inflation. The National Children’s Science Centre is to be located on a site beside the NCH on Earlsfort Terrace.

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The scheme involves the change of use of the former UCD School of Civil Engineering to the National Children’s Science Centre and the refurbishment of the parts of the National Concert Hall and the real tennis court building along with the construction of a new four-storey building with a planetarium dome at the boundary of the Iveagh Gardens.

A condition attached to the planning permission said that no improvement works should be carried out that would interfere with the use of the real tennis court for real tennis.

However, in the IRTA appeal drawn up by planning consultants Cunnane Stratton Reynolds, it contended that permission must be retracted rather than merely amendments being made to a number of conditions as “the application has not been properly assessed because there are so many information gaps not rectified by the imposition of conditions after the event”.

Cunnane Stratton Reynolds said that the IRTA contended “that there is no clarity or certainty as to what has been approved by way of this planning permission and what will be delivered”.

“Our client has no choice but to appeal to seek clarity as to the permanency of the works and features required for the real tennis court to be restored to playable condition,” the appeal said.

Sports historian Prof Paul Rouse has said in an IRTA submission that documentary evidence indicates that real tennis was one of Ireland’s oldest surviving organised sports, second only to horse racing and hurling.

Prof Rouse said that the real tennis court not being used for its intended purpose on its presentation to the State in 1939 was a shame, and a failure now to return the real tennis court to playing use would compound this.

Cunnane Stratton Reynolds said that “anything short of the return of the court for use for real tennis would fail to address the concerns not only of our client but also other interested parties”.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times