Dáil Éireann - Volume 638 - 26 September, 2007

Written Answers. - Planning Issues.

Deputy Fergus O’Dowdasked the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government if he has been asked to give his consent to the Dublin City Council proposal to build a new medical legal centre in close proximity to the Casino at Marino which is a national monument and protected structure; and if he will refuse his consent to this proposal in view of the facts and the opposition to this proposal from the Irish Georgian Society. [19910/07]

  Deputy John Gormley:In January 2007, Dublin City Council gave public notice under Part 8 of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 of the proposed development of a medico-legal centre, to provide urgently required City Morgue and State Pathology Service facilities located on local authority owned lands adjacent to the site of the Casino at Marino in Dublin. The Casino itself is a national monument in the ownership of the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. While the Casino and its precincts are in the ownership of the Minister, the remaining lands at Marino are in the ownership of Dublin City Council.

As a prescribed body under Article 28 (1)(c) of the Planning and Development Regulations 2001 [664] my Department was notified by the planning authority of this proposed development. In its response the Department raised a number of issues, the primary concern being that any proposed development near the Casino must be fully in sympathy with and should seek to enhance where possible the amenity and setting of the national monument.

It is also of relevance that provision has been made under my Department’s 2007 Fire Service Capital Programme for supporting the modernisation of the Dublin Fire Brigade Training Centre at the O’Brien Institute in Marino which is also adjacent to the Casino. In March of this year, following a detailed capital appraisal by Dublin City Council, my Department gave approval in principle for the Council to prepare and submit a detailed design brief and drawings and the initiation of the planning process for this development.

In discussions my Department has advocated the development by the City Council of a conservation plan for the grounds at Marino to create a framework within which issues relating to appropriate development could be considered.

To assist in the planning process for the medico-legal centre, Dublin City Council applied for Ministerial consent to carry out archaeological test excavations on land in proximity to the Casino. As required under the National Monuments Acts, the Director of the National Museum of Ireland was consulted and raised no objection to the grant of consent in this case. I subsequently granted my consent to Dublin City Council’s application for the test excavation programme on 27 August 2007. Conditions were attached to the grant of consent seeking to determine, if possible, the accurate location of certain landscape features formerly associated with the Casino.

My Department is of the view that the two proposed developments by the Council should be taken forward on a co-ordinated basis. To this end a further meeting has been arranged between my Department and the Council to discuss the heritage issues arising from both proposals including the desirability and practicalities of the preparation by the City Council of a conservation plan. In the context of these discussions my Department will continue to seek to ensure that the Casino and its setting are fully protected and enhanced where possible.