City Council set to transform disused lands into biodiversity centre

by Rachel Darcy

Lands on the northern banks of the Liffey, that were previously inaccessible to the public, are set to be transformed into a biodiversity centre according to new plans lodged by Dublin City Council (DCC).

Liffey Vale House, a protected Georgian structure on Old Lucan Road, and the surrounding gardens are owned by Dublin City Council. The Parks Department have recently published plans on their website for the future of the lands, and have appointed a design team to develop and oversee the proposals for the regeneration of the lands.

Blackwood Associates have been appointed by the council for the works, and have carried out a range of surveys to better understand the site, as well as engaging stakeholders, ahead of drafting proposals for the new biodiversity/ecological centre.

In the draft proposal, DCC have said that Liffey Vale and the surrounding grounds are to be developed as ‘an exemplar centre for best practice biodiversity and re-wilding’.

The site will allow locals to learn about the animals, plants and ecological systems that exist in a close proximity to the city centre, using the principles of sustainable management of the landscape in addition to the sustainable conservation of the historic building. Both are expected to be fully open to the public as an educational facility.

Liffey Vale House was once home to a family who tended the gardens, and an orchard, along the edge of the River Liffey. Once regenerated, the home will house a multi-purpose learning space, a small cafe and public toilets, all redesigned with respect of the existing sale of the house and it’s current relationship to the site.

Within the house, traces of the historic features are expected to be retained by the design team, including maintaining floors and fireplaces.

At present, the lands are home to multiple habitats containing a range of species who moved into the damp walls and the overgrown orchard along the water’s edge. According to DCC’s plans, the new venture will demonstrate how humans can delicately manage and rewild the once manicured area of Liffey Vale.

The ground will open onto a series of paths which will be provided to allow universal access through a range of natural features, including woodland, wetland, the river edge etc.

Over the coming months, ecologists, archaeologists and bio-diversity experts are all expected to begin work to create optimal conditions for flora and fauna to grow as it would have over a hundred years ago to ensure modern greenery won’t dominate the landscape.

DCC are now seeking the input and response of the public to the plans, with hopes to begin works on the site in mid-2021. To submit thoughts on the plan to the department, contact parks@dublincity.ie, or visit the consultation website here.

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