Hell Fire €15m fund ‘could be used for better things’

An artist’s impression of the Hell Fire Club plans

Taken from echo.ie

THE €10m that South Dublin County Council is planning to spend on the development of a visitor centre at the Hell Fire Club on Montpelier Hill “could be used for better things”, according to a local councillor.

The contentious plans for the site, including the construction of a visitor centre with an exhibition space, a panoramic café, toilets, changing facilities, a walkers’ lounge, an education centre and retail space, are currently under consideration by An Bord Pleanála.

The council’s funding for the centre forms part of their plans in their Three Year Capital Programme (2020-2023) which was brought up at Monday’s monthly meeting of South Dublin County Council.

Madeleine Johansson, a People Before Profit councillor for Palmerstown-Fonthill, told The Echo: “I asked the Chief Executive about where the funding for this €15m project will come from, and he said €5m will come from Fáilte Ireland and €10m will come from the council.

“I personally think that money could be used for better things, without building that monstrosity.

“The car park needs to be updated, and toilet facilities are needed too.

“This project is too big, it’s out of proportion and it’s potentially harmful to wildlife and biodiversity in the area.”

Provision for car-park facilities, a coach park, an improved trail network with signage and minimal conservation works, both at the Hell Fire Club and Massy’s Estate, are included in the council’s plans, as are plans for a tree-top walk link between the two locations.

The council hopes that the development will attract a footfall of up to 300,000 visitors a year.

Speaking at an oral hearing held in November 2018, Paul Keogh, an architect for South Dublin County Council, said that a “do-nothing scenario” would be unsustainable for the Hell Fire Club as visitor numbers are expected to increase in the coming years.

Mr Keogh said that the aim of the development was to “accommodate a large number and wider range of users” and that there would be economic benefits as the visitor centre would increase the “dwell time” of Hell Fire Club visitors.

When the plans were originally released in 2017, the cost of the project was estimated to be €19m, but later the projected cost was then reduced by €4m.