The Irish Times view on reclaiming Sandymount Strand: A bold – and flawed – idea

There is a need for debate about how to house rising population. But is Sandymount Strand the place to start?

Sandymount Strand, famed in song and story, holds a special place in the hearts of Dubliners. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

Sandymount Strand, famed in song and story, holds a special place in the hearts of Dubliners. Photograph: Nick Bradshaw

 

Sandymount Strand, famed in song and story, holds a special place in the hearts of Dubliners. With the two Poolbeg stacks providing a backdrop, its broad expanse when the tide goes out is one of the city’s most memorable images. Thus, the radical idea of “reclaiming” much of the strand for urban development (along with the Tolka Estuary) has raised hackles since it was floated this week by David Browne, president of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

According to Browne, infilling these areas of Dublin Bay would provide homes for up to 150,000 people in apartment blocks of four to eight storeys, with some taller landmark buildings as well as all of the facilities needed to cater for new urban communities, all in relatively close proximity to the city centre. Indeed, as he pointed out, a Garden City version of such a land reclamation scheme was put forward by master planner Patrick Abercrombie in his Dublin of the Future plan, drawn up in 1922.

What has changed since then is the climate. As the Government’s latest National Risk Assessment underlines, rising sea levels as a result of climate breakdown pose increasing flood risks to coastal communities, such as Sandymount and Clontarf. The Dart commuter railway line is also at risk from storm surges and will need to be protected by an embankment that could carry the long-planned cycle route stretching from Sutton to Sandycove. Either way, many existing seafront homes will lose their maritime views.

There are two other major obstacles standing in the way of his bold idea: both Sandymount Strand and the Tolka Estuary are Special Protection Areas under the EU’s birds directive and are also included in the Unesco Biosphere designation for Dublin Bay, mainly to protect migrating birds such as Brent geese. It seems highly unlikely that these measures can easily be set aside to permit large-scale urban development. Certainly, there should be a debate about how and where Dublin can accommodate an expanded population. But is Sandymount Strand the place to start?

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.