RTÉ should leave Donnybrook to allow new housing - Greens

Eamon Ryan says broadcaster should quit 30-acre site and move to city centre location

A radical Green Party proposal suggests the RTÉ site at Montrose (above) should be used for high-density housing, and that RTÉ itself should move to the city centre. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

A radical Green Party proposal suggests the RTÉ site at Montrose (above) should be used for high-density housing, and that RTÉ itself should move to the city centre. File photograph: Alan Betson/The Irish Times

 

The national broadcaster RTÉ should be asked to vacate its 30-acre Dublin 4 campus and move into the city centre, under a radical Green Party proposal to alleviate housing shortages in Dublin.

Party leader Eamon Ryan and deputy leader Catherine Martin disclosed the new housing plans at the gates of RTÉ in Donnybrook on Thursday.

The policy proposes the RTÉ site, all five Dublin Bus garages close to the city centre and the glass bottle site in Ringsend be used for high-density housing.

Mr Ryan said the lands in all locations were under-utilised and could be developed into accommodation for 5,000 students and 5,000 others.

Partially unused

He said an NTMA report on the RTÉ campus showed 20 per cent of the RTÉ campus in Donnybrook was undeveloped and a further 20 per cent was used for car parking. It also found one-fifth of office space at the site was not used.

Mr Ryan said the changes would allow RTÉ to return to the city centre “where it belonged”, and build modern digital studios near the digital and technology quarters, rather than staying in a Dublin suburb.

He denied the suggestion was a stunt. “No, it’s an action a government needs to take. We have a housing crisis and it’s a practical and realisable solution.”

Portraying it as a win-win situation, he said it would suit RTÉ to relocate to the city centre where it started off, and also help Dublin 4 by bringing in a whole new population of students.

With office space in the city centre at a premium, however, he was asked where RTÉ and its several thousand employees could relocate to.

He said joined-up thinking was required. Part of Nama’s mandate, he added, was that “it would give a social return to the State - and not just an economic one”.

“They are selling sites that would have been perfect for the move we are now calling for. For example, the Carlton site was recently sold. That would have been ideal.

“What are we going to do? Build another massive shopping centre when Boyers and Clerys are closing?” he asked.

He said there were other options such as the DIT in Aungier Street, which will become vacant when the new campus in Grangegorman is fully opened.

He said the BBC had a better location than RTÉ has, with its Shepherd’s Bush headquarters closer to London city centre.

He added that, in this age, the Dublin Bus garages at Summerhill, Conyngham Road, Ringsend, Broadstone and Donnybrook were in the wrong locations. They were located in those areas at a time when all buses originated from the city centre, he noted.

Mr Ryan said it made little sense for bus drivers to drive into the city centre, pick up their buses and drive them to the suburbs, where they began work. He said the garages should be relocated to the suburbs.

He challenged Minister for Communications Alex White to come up with a plan for RTÉ and said he had yet to do so after more than a year in office.

“He has to come out and say what his vision is for the future of RTÉ,” he said.

“Alex White, do you agree with me? Should this site be kept by RTÉ?”

Asked had he put the proposal to RTÉ, he said he had spoken in recent days to people who worked there who had “not been negative” and who realised “that things have to change”.

Ms Martin said: “We need to protect recreational spaces at the same time we build new housing developments close to the city centre. High-density housing will allow us to protect other local green spaces.”