Proposed development plans for the old ferry terminal at St Michael’s Pier, Dún Laoghaire Co Dublin, require “detailed scrutiny” according to a former director of Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company.

The Harbour Innovation Campus vision, brainchild of Dublin-based businessman Philip Gannon, comprises a shared innovation space for technology, marine and design business, and could support up to 1,000 jobs, according the Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company.

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The main hall of the old ferry terminal on St Michael’s Pier, Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin

Senator Victor Boyhan however highlights acceptability, viability and sustainability, as concerns he will outline in a submission to the planning authority.

“Clearly any change of use for the site requires detailed scrutiny and ultimately planning permission. It’s premature to say that this project will actually happen or that it is even appropriate…given the site’s history, zoning and the status of the EU funding that was advanced for the original harbour terminal.”

He said planners must have regard to the decision of Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Councillors “who voted to provide ‘Specific Local Objective’ to provide for a sailing academy on the site, in their County Development Plan” which is in force until 2022.

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The combined yacht clubs of Dún Lagohaire have proposed a National Watersports Centre 

No long-term development, contractual arrangements or plans should be entered into “until a full harbour board in in place and the future governance for the harbour has been agreed between Minister Ross and Dún Laoghaire Harbour Company in conjunction with harbour users and stakeholders,” he said.

Harbour vision

Gerry Dunne, chief executive of DLHC, says the project will transform the old terminal, reinvigorate the town and will be a major boost to the local economy. “Dún Laoghaire is an excellent location for such a facility. The old ferry terminal is a unique site, close to the city and with excellent rail and bus links. The HIC is a real opportunity for Dún Laoghaire to become the central innovation and technology hub for Dublin – if not the whole county.”

The proposed 75,000 square feet plan comprising the former arrivals hall, departure lounge, baggage hall and ticket office buildings is scheduled to be operational by mid-2018.

National Watersports Centre

During an oral hearing in 2015 by An Bord Pleanála on the plans for a ‘super terminal’ for cruise liners in the harbour, the Dún Laoghaire Combined Clubs (Royal St George YC; National YC, Royal Irish YC and Dún Laoghaire Motor YC) proposed a National Watersports Centre. The plan envisages a coordination centre of ‘national significance’ that could host major international and national sailing and water sports events, attracting up to 500 boats and up to 1,000 sailors, support crews and families.The centre could also be used for conferences, exhibitions, food fairs and boat shows, they contend.

The ISAF World Championships held every four years in valued at €25m to the host country. The east coast harbour town is a regular venue for the biennial four-day Volvo Regatta, attracting circa 21,000 visitors and contributing over €500,000 to the local retail economy.