Mixed reaction to planned ‘discovery centre’ for Bull Island

by Dublin Gazette
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Plans have been put in motion for the development of a discovery centre on Bull Island, with a design team recently appointed.

Tentatively named the Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere Discovery Centre, the creation of the building was mentioned briefly in a recent Arts, Culture and Recreation Strategic Policy Committee meeting.

The meeting detailed that Howley Hayes Architects have recently been appointed as the design team for the project.

The design is expected to be developed in 2019, with plans for the construction also to be developed this year before consultation with local community groups and elected representatives.

In early designs of the project, the centre will be located mid-way along the strand, between St Anne’s Golf Club and the Royal Dublin Golf Club.

In the meeting, councillor for the Clontarf area Damian O’Farrell (Ind) said that the project needs to be properly fleshed out and the biosphere respected.

He also called for further specs to be given to the Arts, Culture and Recreation committee.

Cllr O’Farrell said: “There was some consultation over the past couple of years regarding [the centre], and my understanding is that the message would have come back to the council that there weren’t people at those preliminary meetings that were in favour of a four-storey building on Bull Island.

“I’d like for next month on the agenda to come back with the specs given to the architects. This needs to be [fleshed] out at the start, rather than when it’s gone down the road and there’s a lot of money put into it and it’s not what people want.

“Often before, people haven’t seen something [like the centre] until the end, which has happened once or twice with Bull Island, and we need to respect this biosphere,” he said.

Cllr O’Farrell also said on social media that he is “disappointed” that the council did not consult with local representatives prior to hiring a design firm.

There is already an Interpretive Centre for Bull Island that has fallen into disrepair, with many locals online calling for the original to be revamped rather than a new one built.

A DCC spokesperson told Dublin Gazette: “An update on the Dublin Bay UNESCO Biosphere Discovery Centre is being given at the next North Central Area Committee meeting on Monday, February 18. We will not be commenting in advance of that meeting.”

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