ress release from SisPar, issued on Wednesday, November 8th 2023…
As the final apartments in the harbour are heading for completion its worth taking stock of what has been delivered as part of the whole process, despite the challenges of the property crash, the downturn that followed and in more recent years the pandemic.
Greystones Harbour and North Beach were rebuilt, expanded and protected under a Public Private Partnership (PPP) originally established between Wicklow County Council and SisPar.
The objectives were to regenerate the Old Victorian harbour area and extend Greystones town to include a new 16 acre public park. SisPar originally comprised John Sisk & Son and Park Developments.
So what has been delivered? Public facilities valued in excess of €50m as part of the new harbour, a 230-berth marina, 5,500m 2 of commercial units and 341 residential units – both houses and apartments. The North Beach is now monitored and managed to limit the damage of coastal erosion.
The centrepiece is the public square on the waterfront, which serves as a focal point for the town at the very heart of the harbour area and which has started to come into its own in recent years with markets and public events. Once the final block of apartments in completed, new retail and commercial space will come on stream, supporting more activity by the waterfront.
Clubhouses and boat yard facilities have been enjoyed by a new generation of members of the Sailing Club, the Ridge Angling Club, the Sea Scouts, the Rowing Club and the Sub-Aqua Club, as well as by the seals and multiple sea birds and pigeons!
A company called Sensori Facilities Management now manages the day to day upkeep of the public areas. There is a help desk you can contact for queries in relation to public lighting, CCTV, slipways and general cleanliness of the marina area, health and safety or damage to the public walkways, drainage and the carparks. Please use the Contact Us section of the Greystones Harbour website here, which has more info on the history of the harbour and its rescue.
But what about the fishing boats tied up illegally to the pier?
The primary function of the north and south breakwaters is to protect the harbour and coastline from erosion by the sea, acting as a barrier to slow water speed. This is what the breakwaters were designed and built for, following the project brief from Wicklow County Council.
The boats currently mooring illegally were not fishing out of Greystones when the harbour was being designed and therefore it was not designed to accommodate them. These larger vessels have only started to come in to Greystones since the new harbour was built and their main base of operation is in fact Dun Laoghaire since 2010.
There continues to be illegal use of the marina and north breakwater by commercial fishing boats. The design of the harbour never envisaged the commercial scale fishing boats mooring up against the north breakwater, as these boats were not operating from Greystones before the construction of the new harbour and marina.
The current harbour and marina were designed in the mid-2000’s, in accordance with Wicklow County Council’s requirements which included the provision of appropriate moorings in the new outer harbour for the type of vessel operating out of Greystones prior to the redevelopment.
The moorings installed in the outer harbour were designed for the small fishing boats which would have featured in the harbour prior to the redevelopment and comprise linear (fore and aft) moorings located within the outer harbour, away from fixed structures and the harbour beach. The development of the harbour progressed through the planning approval process, including a public oral hearing, local consultation led by Wicklow County Council as the promoter of the project, when all stakeholders had their opportunity to engage.
Following planning approval, detailed design and construction took place. Unauthorised moorings for a number of fishing boats were illegally installed on the north breakwater and were being used by a number of fishing boats without any permission or agreement and damage was done to the structure by the unauthorised installation of these moorings. These mooring have been removed but then illegally reinstalled. Some of these large commercial fishing boats have also been mooring to safety ladders, restricting access to the safety ladders such that they are inaccessible should anyone fall into the water and posing a serious health and safety risk to members of the public.
As part of the ongoing management of safety, gates were installed by Wicklow County Council at the end of the north breakwater to curtail access on occasions where there is an increased risk to public safety from pier jumping and also as weather conditions dictate. Unauthorised access by vehicles to the north breakwater is not permitted for obvious safety reasons and SisPar is trying to manage the risk to members of the public with the use of the gates.
However, locks were repeatedly broken and access gained by vehicles parking illegally and unloading fishing boats. These matters have been reported to the Gardai in Greystones previously.
It is worth noting also that extensive discussions took place with fishermen wanting to moor commercial fishing boats in the new harbour and they were offered the opportunity to unload their catch from the north breakwater on the basis they would then moor their boats in the marina. The deal they were offered would also have seen them avail of the fishermen’s huts that were built in the harbour specifically to store fishing gear but they decided not to do this.
You can find out more about the ongoing fishermen disputes in our archives here, a recent take by The Skipper here, and more on Sispar’s work here.