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€15m outdoor heated swimming pool proposed for Docklands site

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Artist’s impression of the proposed outdoor pool

Artist’s impression of the proposed outdoor pool

Artist’s impression of the proposed outdoor pool

An outdoor public swimming pool is to be developed as a companion project to the controversial €22m white-water rafting facility in Dublin's Docklands.

A site on Custom House Quay has been earmarked for the proposed 50-metre heated pool, which could cost €15m.

Dublin City Council claims the Sea Pool project will create a visitor destination in the area, which is home to the Jeanie Johnston Famine ship and the EPIC diaspora museum.

"The combination of these amenities will attract families from Dublin and other parts of Ireland and will give our overseas visitors a new and very healthy option to enjoy their stay in our capital city," the council said.

A study established that a site on the north bank of the Liffey close to the Sean O'Casey footbridge was the best location for the proposed pool.

Locations ruled out were Spencer Dock, Grand Canal Dock and a section of the quays near the 3Arena.

The plans envisage the pool with a depth of two metres and an adjustable section to reduce the depth for an area for children.

The pool would contain fresh water heated to 26.3C.

Finances

The council's Docklands area manager, Derek Kelly, said the local authority had originally considered incorporating an open-air public swimming pool as part of its plans for the rafting facility at George's Dock, but had ruled it was not possible to locate it within the same site.

The €22m rafting project, next to the IFSC, has generated considerable controversy over its high cost at a time of pressure on the council's finances and the city's housing and homelessness crises.

However, council chief executive Owen Keegan said investing in such infrastructure was important for when the tourism sector recovers following the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council said its preferred option would be for the pool project to be developed on a design-build-operate-finance basis following an international competition.

It envisaged that the council and Dublin Port Company would offer a long-term lease of 30 years to the successful bidder, after which time the ownership of the pool would transfer to the council.

Although capital expenditure by the winning bidder was likely to be more than €15m, council officials said they could expect to have revenue of more than €100m from a 30-year licence.

Success

Mr Kelly said the choice of location for the pool would be crucial to its success.

"This location would develop Custom House Quay into a hub for water-based recreational activity in the city and will help to achieve the city council's ambitions for the animation of water bodies within the Docklands," he said.

The feasibility study said the Custom House Quay site was an attractive option because of its proximity to the city centre and good public transport links.

However, it noted that a strong tidal flow was a disadvantage.

Mr Kelly claimed preliminary studies had indicated that the project was unlikely to have a significant environmental impact.

He pointed out that similar facilities such as the Allas Spa complex in Helsinki, which contains a smaller pool for children, saunas, a cafe and restaurant, attracted annual attendances of 800,000.

Other cities with large outdoor public pools include Paris, Berlin and Copenhagen.

The issue is due to be debated at a meeting of the council's south-east area committee next Monday.

As the next stage, the council plans to appoint a consultant to develop a brief that would be used for an international call for expressions of interest to develop the facility.