Abbey Theatre objectors withdraw opposition, clearing way for redevelopment

Theatre, backed by Dublin City Council, can move ahead with compulsory acquisition of adjoining buildings

Exit stage left, the objectors. The redevelopment of the Abbey Theatre has moved a step closer after three land owners on Abbey Street and Eden Quay who opposed their buildings being subjected to compulsory purchase orders (CPO) withdrew their objections.

An Bord Pleanála confirmed on Friday that there are no longer any objections to plans by Dublin City Council to CPO 18-21 Eden Quay, 24-26 Abbey Street Lower, and 7, 8 and 20 Old Abbey Street to facilitate the national theatre’s €80 million redevelopment. The theatre has already purchased a number of adjoining buildings on the open market to increase its footprint, including 15-17 and 22-23 Eden Quay.

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The landowners opposed to the CPO argued it would be “unprecedented” for private property to be taken by the State through a CPO for cultural use. Such orders are more typically used for large infrastructure projects like roads, railways or greenways.

Among the objectors was Roy Wilson, the owner of a mews house on Old Abbey Street. Wilson, who is retired, had initially objected to the compulsory purchase of his property, saying he had lived there for 40 years and wished to leave it to his four children.


Michael Hegarty, a solicitor who owns 20 Old Abbey Street, now leased to another legal practice, also opposed the CPO, arguing the Abbey’s redevelopment had yet to go through the planning process and had not been subjected to an environmental impact assessment.

The third objection came from the leaseholder of a building on Eden Quay being used as a hairdressing business.

Cost to council?

All three objections were withdrawn in recent weeks. Dublin City Council did not respond to queries seeking information on how much had been paid to the landowners for their properties.

The Abbey Theatre declined to comment, saying the CPO had been initiated by Dublin City Council “in the name of a future redevelopment of the Abbey Theatre”.

An Bord Pleanála said the case was now closed and it had no further involvement in the compulsory purchase orders.

The Abbey, which has been in its present location for 50 years, was allocated €80 million in 2019 by the Department of Culture for redevelopment. It wants to demolish its current building and the adjoining Peacock Theatre and build two auditoriums seating 700 and 250 people facing the river Liffey.