Film studio will not threaten Poolbeg housing plan

Project backer says the €80m complex will not be developed on Irish Glass Bottle site

The Irish Glass Bottle site at Ringsend, Dublin. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

The Irish Glass Bottle site at Ringsend, Dublin. File photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

 

The backers of a planned Hollywood-style film studio in Dublin’s docklands have said their scheme would not require land designated for housing on the Poolbeg peninsula.

Last May, the Government gave approval to Dublin City Council to create a fast-track planning scheme on 84 acres of land at Poolbeg, including the site of the former Irish Glass Bottle factory.

Windmill Lane Studios founder James Morris and film producer Alan Moloney had asked the council to set aside 20 acres of the glass bottle site to develop an €80 million studio complex.

However, senior Dublin City Council planning officials said the large “hanger-style” studio would take up 60 per cent of the land at the glass bottle site which had been designated by the council for housing .

In order to accommodate the studio, the number of new homes at the site would have to be reduced from 2,500 to 1,000, or apartment blocks of 15-16 storeys - taller than Liberty Hall - would need to be built.

On Tuesday, Mr Morris said Dublin Bay Studios, the firm behind the studio project, would be happy with the same amount of space elsewhere in the 84-acre Strategic Development Zone (SDZ).

“We started looking at the glass bottle site four or five years ago when there was no SDZ and there wasn’t a housing issue.

“At that time, we were just looking at a vacant industrial space. It is now clear housing is the priority, but we think the studio can sit alongside the housing.”

Zoning

The company is now seeking to have lands to the north of the glass bottle site, which the council planned to zone for commercial/office use, zoned specifically for studios.

“We have moved on from looking for 60 per cent of the Irish Glass Bottle site to 24 per cent of the SDZ lands, which would still be 20 acres.

“It’s no longer a discussion of whether it is us or housing, it’s now a discussion of whether it is us or offices, ” he said.

The studio had the potential to be a “catalyst” for a “creative industry cluster” Mr Morris said.

He also said it would generate jobs for the inner city.

“A big part of our plan is to have apprenticeships – we represent jobs for the local area.

“We aren’t looking for any subsidies to build the studio. This is a real opportunity to create employment and wealth.”

There was a demand for large soundstages in Ireland and the studio would be a “non-stop” production facility, he said.

“There is a huge demand worldwide for content. We have the elements to grow the production industry but we don’t have the infrastructure.”

The council is currently preparing the SDZ planning scheme and hopes to have a draft ready for public consultation in January.