Developers Paddy McKillen jnr and Matt Ryan have secured planning permission from An Bord Pleanála for the development of a luxurious wellness facility, spa and interpretative centre on the lands adjacent to Booterstown Marsh and bird sanctuary in South Dublin.
While the Press Up Entertainment Group chiefs’ plan for the site had been rejected by Dublin City Council in November 2020 over concerns that it could cause water pollution in Dublin Bay and have a harmful impact on what it described as “a highly sensitive, environmentally valuable site”, the appeals board has now given the project the green light following the consideration of an environmental impact assessment and a commitment from McKillen’s company, Soundvale Ltd, to protect the area’s biodiversity through a series of mitigation measures. Dublin Bay is, along with the Kerry biosphere reserve, one of just two Unesco biosphere reserves in Ireland, while there are only 701 Unesco biosphere reserves in the world.
Located just off the Rock Road and at the boundary of Booterstown Marsh, the approved scheme will, upon completion, comprise a five-storey building rising to a height of 18.55 metres (61ft) and extending across a total area of 6,328sq m (68,114sq ft). The building’s aim, according to the developer, is to become “an exemplary place of exercise, health, wellbeing and education, housing an interpretative centre, exercise studios, pools, a spa and ancillary restaurant.”
In terms of layout, the top floor of the building – or Sky Level +02 as it will be known – is set to accommodate a wellness centre and spa along with an outdoor pool, hydro facility, changing areas and toilets, and a publicly accessible restaurant. The outdoor pool complex is to be located overlooking the scheme’s central garden.
At first-floor level, or Horizon Level +01, the development will have a piano nobile, overlooking the garden and Dublin Bay. This area, described as the most important part of the building by the developer, will be mostly for use by members and will comprise changing rooms and shower areas for individuals and families, a large gym and warming-up area, and a pool complex with a children’s and adult pool opening out to a terrace with a hydro facility overlooking the bay.
The mezzanine level (+0M) will offer additional studio space and some additional toilets and an office space. The upper level and terrace of the interpretative centre will also be located at this level.
The ground-floor level (+00) of the building will consist of its main reception, back-up office, toilets, studios, a child-minding facility, cafe and plant areas.
In a concurrent planning application to Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council in relation to the lands surrounding the proposed building, the developer has submitted a detailed biodiversity plan.
Included in this proposal are a new coastal meadow flood plain, a coastal tree belt, coastal grass and a shrub garden, a mown grass area to facilitate a new bird hide, small bee boxes, swift boxes and sand martin boxes. The plan also provides for the retention of existing scrub, natural grassland and wild flower areas.
Commenting on the objectives for the lands surrounding the wellness facility and interpretative centre, the developer said: “The biodiversity aspects, coastal meadow and pollinator planting are designed to stimulate interest in sustainable gardening.
“Guided walks, lectures and seasonal events will appeal to anyone with an interest in gardening and contributing to the environment and their wellness whether they have a window box, balcony, patio or garden or are involved with any of the Tidy Towns Groups who are keen to learn more about pollinators and biodiversity gardening.
“Where possible, we will collaborate and partner with leading experts including the Botanic Gardens, pollinators.ie and the National Biodiversity Centre.”