Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company is proposing to develop a cluster of floating homes, it describes as ‘an exciting, innovative and affordable-living initiative’, at a cost of €250,000-€300,000 per unit.
The development on a gated pontoon is planned on the weather side of Traders’ Wharf, ‘with views of the west pier, Dublin Bay and the marina in the harbour’.
DLHC is seeking expressions of interest by September 22 from ‘parties with the relevant expertise, experience and resources’ to cooperate with the harbour company ‘in realising this opportunity’.
Speaking to Inshore Ireland, Karin Dubsky, Coastwatch coordinator, said that while the idea of providing affordable homes in the heart of Dún Laoghaire and close to the main public transport arteries was “really welcome”, there wasn’t enough detail to assess whether the project was feasible, what impact it might have on harbour water quality and what ‘affordable’ means.
“These are three of many aspects which would need to be fleshed out.”
She added that “one great asset of Dún Laoghaire harbour” was its public access and the mix of people using and enjoying it:
“How large an area will the housing pontoon make inaccessible to those walking the quay, using the water?” she asked.
She referred to the photo montage which shows ‘Dutch canal- type’ settings of flat calm water and trees:
“But Dún Laoghaire harbour can look very different. Would these homes withstand storms in the location shown or is it envisaged they would be pulled into a more sheltered position if a storm is forecast? Where else does this exist in more comparable conditions?”
In a statement to Inshore Ireland, local councillor Melisa Halpin, Save our Seafront, described the project as ‘the beginning of a process to privatise the harbour for the benefit of an elite few and destroy public access to the harbour’.
SOS — a voluntary group with interests to protect and enhance public access to Dún Laoghaire and Dublin Bay — added the project was the latest in a list of proposals put forward by the harbour company which has ‘lost sight of its primary function: ‘To manage the harbour for commercial and leisure marine activities that would ensure the future of the harbour to benefit the town and the community as a whole’.
In conjunction with other local interest parties, SOS has put forward proposals that it says would safeguard the historic aspect of the harbour, such as a marine centre of excellence, and is calling on the minister for transport, Shane Ross to ‘abolish this wasteful quango and to hand over control of the harbour to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council as proposed in the Harbour Act of 2015.’
The Department of Tourism Transport and Sport told Inshore Ireland that DLHC has conducted a ‘due diligence’ report in advance of the planned transfer to the Council.
‘As the report raised a number of issues for further clarification, the chief executive engaged a risk and financial consultant to carry out a risk assessment. This will enable the Council to fully understanding the implications of models to transfer and the responsibility that will transfer in financial and other terms.
‘The port company is currently engaging with the risk assessor. When the risk assessment process is completed, it is expected that matters will progress towards agreeing a model and a date for transfer.’