Building on Sandymount Strand

Sir, – I write in response to the editorial in The Irish Times ("A bold – and flawed – idea", August 8th), and various letters to the editor commenting on my proposal, as president of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland (RIAI), in your edition of August 5th regarding the reclamation of Sandymount Strand and the Tolka Estuary.

These are indeed important places and amenities and any such consideration for their reclamation would have to be made with the greatest care.

This issue is not just about the Tolka Estuary and Sandymount Strand. It’s about looking at the sustainable future development of Dublin. Our thinking about our cities needs to change, and we now must address the challenges of population growth, sustainability and climate change, among other concerns.

Since the 1950s, Greater Dublin has grown at very low density to the west and north, resulting in sprawl and poor access to public transportation, and this should not be allowed to continue.


A group within the RIAI is currently researching what Irish cities might look like in 2070 and how they might contribute to balanced regional development. In that context, the big question for Dublin is how do we plan for its growth over the next 50-plus years? The Docklands served the city well for the past 30 years but is now reaching completion. There are no further large viable areas of land to support such large-scale development left within the two canals.

What are the options? We could continue to allow the city to sprawl at low density to the west and north. We could redevelop the industrial lands to the west around Inchicore and the Naas Road, which perhaps might result in a two-centre city. We could embrace high-rise buildings at suitable sites in the existing city, ideally in key areas like the Docklands or at transit hubs like Connolly Station, Heuston Station or Broombridge. We could consider reclaiming portions of Sandymount Strand and Tolka Estuary.

The RIAI believes that we should carefully and comprehensively look at all of these options and others, if they emerge, and determine the environmental, economic and social impact of each. Then decide which option, or combination of options, is best for the sustainable future development of Dublin.

I hope that by bringing up one of the possible options, that of reclamation to the east of the city, I am drawing attention to the limited options that are available, and for the need for a long-term vision for the city of Dublin as a compact, dense vibrant city that is best for the wellbeing of its citizens. – Yours, etc,



Royal Institute

of Architects of Ireland,

Merrion Square,

Dublin 2.

Sir, – Given the current difficulties in obtaining flood insurance cover in parts of Ringsend, Sandymount and surrounding areas, what is the likelihood of purchasers of properties for buildings built on Sandymount Strand and the Tolka Estuary in obtaining such cover?



Co Dublin.

Sir, – At the time of Patrick Abercrombie’s original 1920s suggestion to reclaim and build on Sandymount Strand, it is worth noting at that time Sandymount Strand was very different than it is today.

Any analysis of maps from that time show that the seashore began to the east of Ringsend Park. Over the next few decades part of Sandymount Strand was reclaimed and developed to what has now become the Poolbeg Peninsula.

However, in the main the decision was made to use these lands for industrial purposes, such as port activities and factory uses like bottle-making. Only part was used for housing at what is now the “new” houses west of Sean Moore Road. In more recent times, spare lands on the peninsula were used for sewage treatment facilities and an incinerator.

In 2016 Dublin City Council zoned 34 hectares of the Poolbeg Peninsula as a strategic development zone. To date, plans have only been drawn up for roughly half of this.

Surely the debate at this stage should move on, not to the further development of what is left of Sandymount Strand, but the underutilisation of the lands that have already been reclaimed. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 15.