Towers approved for new Docklands 'gateway'


Minister for the Environment Dick Roche has cleared the way for two tall towers to be built near the mouth of the River Liffey, with the aim of creating a "dramatic maritime gateway" to Dublin.

The Minister gave his approval for the towers, each of which would be 40 per cent higher than Liberty Hall, in the context of amended planning schemes for the Grand Canal Docks and the North Lotts, drawn up by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA).

One of the 100m towers would be located on Britain Quay, where the Dodder flows into the Liffey.

Designed by Blackrock-based architects Burdon Dunne Craig Henry, this "twisting tower" would house new recording studios for rock band U2 on its upper levels.

A competition winning entry from 2002, it was originally intended to be 60 metres tall. However, under the amended planning scheme, the height has been increased by 40 metres - excluding a "feature roofline".

The second tower, by Scott Tallon Walker, would be the centrepiece of a development by businessman Harry Crosbie adjoining the Point Theatre on North Wall Quay.

Its design has been substantially altered following criticism of the blandness of an earlier scheme.

The Point Village will include a hotel, apartments, offices and a district shopping centre as well as doubling the capacity (to 12,000) of the Point Theatre - a protected structure that was originally built as the Midland Great Western Railway's freight depot in Dublin Port.

In approving the DDDA's amended planning scheme for the Grand Canal Docks, the Minister made a principal modification specifying that a proposed public plaza should be relocated 100m to the east, to provide more open space around the proposed U2 tower.

Welcoming ministerial approval for the two planning schemes, DDDA chief executive Paul Maloney said yesterday that authority intended "going to tender on a Europe-wide basis in the next couple of months for a joint venture partnership with developers to build the U2 tower".

Mr Maloney said the amended planning schemes would create new cultural and leisure facilities in the Docklands. "With significant expansion in retail and entertainment provision, the area will become a visitor magnet and a dynamic destination both day and night."

Mr Maloney pointed out that the DDDA's amended planning scheme for the Grand Canal Docks specified that there must be more larger three-bedroom apartments in the area, designed for family living, and also included provision for a half-acre "play park" for children.