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30/11/2010

RTÉ Set For €350M Redevelopment

A major 10-year multi-million Euro redevelopment for Irish state broadcaster, RTÉ is to proceed, despite the recession and the perilous state of the Irish Republic's finances.
A planning application was initially made in October 2009 and now that the revised plan has been approved, construction work is expected to start in 2012.
It is envisaged that 670 construction jobs will be created after it was has finally granted planning permission by the official body, An Bord Pleanála so that a phased €350 million redevelopment of the northern half of its Montrose campus in Donnybrook, Dublin, can proceed over a period of 10 years.
However, it is subject to 23 conditions and is based on consideration of the Dublin City Development Plan as well as "the established use of the site, the pattern of development in the vicinity and the design and layout" of the scheme.
However, plans to sell the southern part of the 31-acre site have been constrained by a condition that the use of buildings to be retained "shall be restricted to use by RTÉ staff only and shall not be sold or leased separately" unless permission is granted.
Several objectors to the proposed development included An Taisce, the German Embassy, billionaire financier Dermot Desmond, who has a house on nearby Ailesbury Road, and several other local residents, who claimed that it would be out of scale.
Now, the planning board ruled that it would be "an acceptable form of development at this location, within the setting of the protected structures and the architectural quality of the campus" and that it would not seriously injure the amenities of the area.
RTÉ said it was pleased to learn of the decision to approve what the national broadcaster calls its 'Project 2025' plan for the long-term modernisation of its production facilities in Donnybrook, which originally date from 1962.
Designed by Scott Tallon Walker, the new broadcasting complex would extend to more than 63,500sq m (683,500sq ft) above basement level in buildings ranging from nearly 11m to 36m in height - the equivalent of nine storeys.
They would house television and radio studios, multi-purpose spaces, newsrooms, orchestra, office accommodation and associated facilities, sound stages, set storage areas, broadcasting technology suites, workshops, a crèche and parking for 820 cars.
It would involve demolishing the remnants of a walled garden, the existing radio building, a squat multi-storey car park to the rear, a single storey crèche, a sound stage-library building, a set storage building and an outdoor set used by Fair City.
The decision related to revised plans submitted by the architects during the course of the appeal.
It will begin with construction of new high definition (HD) digital TV and digital radio studios including a new 'Late Late Show' studio, which can hold 800 people - twice the capacity of the current studio.
When complete, the complex will have production areas, rehearsal and performance spaces and staff offices.
The development is being planned because RTE must invest in new digital broadcast production and transmission facilities. But it says housing these new technologies in the current buildings is not feasible because they were built in the 1960s and are unsuitable.
"Rapid change in production and broadcast technology obliges us to plan and provide for the future," RTE Director-General Cathal Goan said last year when it was first announced.
"RTE has considered carefully the best way to upgrade our broadcast production and transmission facilities while continuing to stay on air. We are confident that the most cost-effective, sustainable and technically robust option available is to reconfigure our existing site and incorporate all facilities into a single new building."
The TV building, which hosts studios and the newsroom, was built in 1962 while the radio centre was completed in 1971. All offices in the new building will be designed as use for television or radio production if required.
The project will be financed through cash reserves built up by the organisation and bank loans. A spokesman stressed that licence-fee income could not be used to fund construction.
(BMCC/GK)
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