There are three Graving Docks in the Grand Canal Basin, one of which is infilled with the other two having being opened up in 2002 by Waterways Ireland, who are freehold owners of the site. The Graving Docks are an important part of the heritage and culture of the Grand Canal and the history of Dublin.
The three graving docks at Ringsend have statutory protection as a Conservation Area in the Dublin City Council Development Plan 2016-2022. As such, in order to obtain planning approval, any new developments which may impact on the graving docks will need to rigorously comply with objectives laid out in the Plan.
The continued preservation of the graving docks is afforded further protection within the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) Masterplan.
The SDZ was adopted in 2014 with the graving dock site identified as City Block 19 in the planning scheme. The scheme sets out a vision for the area under a number of themes, including that of built heritage with protection provided by requiring a feasibility be undertaken of re-opening one of the infilled graving docks in any development proposals. Waterways Ireland have already re-opened two of the infilled graving docks and have provided assurance that these will remain open as part of any future development proposals.
Waterways Ireland undertook a conservation assessment of the docks in 2018, which included a test trenching exercise under licence from the National Monuments Service, supervised by an Industrial Archaeologist. The exercise confirmed that all three of the original docks have survived, with the possibility of the two open docks being restored, thereby enhancing the cultural significance of the site into the future. The conservation assessment concluded that the third, infilled dock should retain its historical significance under the hardstanding as archaeological heritage.
Waterways Ireland is currently considering options for taking forward the development of the City Block 19 site which includes the three graving docks. Conditions of any proposed development will require adherence to the terms of the SDZ in relation to use mix of 40% Residential, 30% Commercial and 30% community and recreational or cultural. It is the view of Waterways Ireland that such a development, under the terms of the SDZ, can be achieved whilst retaining the three docks in situ, using imaginative design and careful site methodologies.