Skerries Rowing Club are excited to announce that we have lodged a planning application to establish a boathouse on the Harbour Road. The potential development of a boathouse would provide enormous opportunities to develop the sport of rowing within Skerries across all members of our community. Skerries Rowing Club has proudly represented the town of Skerries for several years in competitive races in East Coast Regattas, and further afield in London and Paris. Most recently we have now acquired an Olympic championship FISA boat that opens new opportunities for the club to evolve and become a leading club in Ireland.
To understand our story to date, we would like to explain the background to our club, who we are, our achievements and our vision for the future that will only be possible with establishment of a boathouse and with the support of the community.
Skerries Rowing Club was established in 2012, rowing out of Skerries Harbour for the last 8 years. We row mainly traditional wooden skiffs that weigh half a tonne that we pull up and down the slip every evening from March to November. The Club have grown from one skiff and a few members to 5 boats, 3 launching trailers, 2 road trailers, training equipment and a current membership of over 120 members.
We are no longer a small club but a well-established one that is gaining ground on the rowing racing circuit. Our juvenile section of the club is the fastest growing section, ranging in ages from 10 to 18 years old. In addition to the highly competitive aspect of the club, we also have a recreational side – a balance that can meet all the needs of the members.
Here is a brief insight of who we are
- We are a COMMUNITY club. Our entire membership ranges in age from 10 to 70 year old and is inclusive of members with disability challenges
- We are the only Fingal rowing club that has a JUVENILE section
- We are a GREEN club; we have banned plastic bottles and have adopted the beach at the RNLI for cleaning.
- We provide a local opportunity to keep fit and take care of your MENTAL HEALTH
- We train nightly and during the Summer months we COMPETE in the East Coast Rowing regatta circuit from Arklow to Skerries. We proudly represent Skerries and have won numerous medals each year.
- We host our own SKERRIES REGATTA where all the East Coast Clubs attend. The regatta consists of 16 races and a total 150 crews competing. This brings large crowds to Red Island from as far away as Wicklow. This is a fabulous free event for all spectators to enjoy.
- We entered the National Rowing Championships for the last 2 years and have achieved silver medals for Skerries.
- We have crews that have represented Skerries Rowing Club in the Great River Race on the Thames in London, Ocean to City in Cork and have entered the Paris Cross City Race.
- Coastal Rowing is set to be an Olympic event in the 2024 games. This is a first for coastal rowing and with the help of funding Skerries Rowing Club has acquired a FISA boat this year. This opens incredible opportunities for our town and we have our sights set high for the future of our club.
Reasons we need a Boathouse
- We have 5 boats and accompanying equipment, and to grow we will need more boats.
- Unfortunately, we cannot expand membership because we are unable to get all our boats to the water. The Sailing Club has been very generous in allowing us to rent space, however we can only store 2 boats in the Sailing Club yard as they are at capacity with their own members boats. All our timber boats need to be inside for the winter, and we have nowhere to store them.
- We need a boathouse near a slipway to store our boats, equipment, and provide some basic facilities to grow this unique community club into a local amenity that the community will be proud of.
In consideration of all the above aspects of our club, we envisage to build a boathouse that will meet all our current and future needs.
The Boathouse Planning Application
Skerries Rowing Club has been working on towards obtaining a boathouse for 5 years. It has been a long and challenging process that most community sporting clubs will be familiar with.
The building needs to be beside a slipway with easy access for hauling boats with weights of approximately half a tonne. We have liaised closely with Fingal County Council (FCC), local councillors, the RNLI, other sea users, the Chamber of Commerce and the Skerries Tidy towns.
As with every community sports club, we needed to acquire a space to build a boathouse and follow a process. Three years ago, we presented to the Skerries Monitoring Committee to explain our situation and a number of options were discussed. We were encouraged to move forward and explore our options.
Two years ago we were successful in achieving a grant from FLAG (Fisherman’s Local Action Group) to prepare an Independent feasibility study in liaison with FCC to see if there was a suitable site in Skerries for our club. Two sites were reviewed.
- The area behind Storm in a Teacup (SIAT)
- The current application site beside the RNLI.
The results showed that the site behind SIAT was too small to house our boats which are 8 and 11 metres long. In addition to this, the site floods and more importantly it has the wrong zoning. It is zoned Green Space under the Development Plan, which will not allow for any construction for community use. The pier itself is also a protected structure and the Conservation Department would not look favourably on any building close to the rear of it.
The current application site was by far the preferred site. It is close to the slipway, on raised ground, has space to hold the desired accommodation and has the correct zoning. It is zoned Open Space under which buildings for recreational or community use is allowed in principle.
Over the last two years we have appealed to FCC, the local councillors and interested parties for the opportunity to be allowed to apply for permission to build a boathouse here. There were many people involved and meetings held.
As a seaside town, FCC support developments which they deem appropriate and beneficial to the town. In the case of our proposition, Skerries Rowing Club is considered beneficial in this area by FCC, both in its use as a community maritime club and as a harbour appropriate building.
In July 2020 we received a letter allowing us to apply for planning permission on this site. We do not own the site and we never will. FCC are, and will remain the owners. If we are fortunate enough to receive planning permission, Skerries Rowing Club will have to fund the building and maintenance, while leasing the land from FCC. Many other clubs in the town would be familiar with this situation.
All detailed application documents are on the FCC planning page. The Register Reference number is F20A/0558 and is openly available. The attached photos will show some key views to help give a clear view to aid the narrative below.
The building itself is nestled between the RNLI and the Sea Memorial
We have a deep respect for the sea and safety to all those on and in it. Members of our club have family and friends who have lost their lives at sea and are honoured on the Sea Pole Memorial. The design of the boathouse building is very respectful towards this. There is a curved low wall around the building, to allow the community to continue to enjoy the sea memorial in the open area it resides in.
We have also liaised with the RNLI and moved the building forward at the rear to allow clear views from their lookout window.
The boathouse draws reference from the gabled local maritime buildings, namely, the RNLI and the old Lifeboat building (now Lifeboat café). It does not copy them, but it respects them, taking influence with its gabled A frames. This will be a contemporary version, a building for its time, reflecting a young and vibrant club. The materials used are exposed timber glulam beams, constructed like the frame of a timber skiff, with a curved timber wall bringing you to the pedestrian entrance facing the open space. The building facing the road is designed to be open and inviting- we want to encourage community members – using it, visiting it, seeing boat maintenance and boat building. We are there for the good of the community and want the community to come inside and be part of this evolving sporting amenity.
The rest of the building will be in a crisp insulated corrugated metal, protecting the rear of the building from the elements. We will be supplying 30 bike racks for all to use and encouraging our members to walk and cycle.
In preparation for this application we have consulted with the Planning, Parks, Drainage, Conservation, and Transportation Departments. All our reports are on the application.
Understandably concerns arise when changes to open space are proposed. We are a maritime sporting club trying to get a base beside the harbour which is where we hope you agree is an appropriate setting. We appreciate your interest, and we want your involvement. We are a great club, and we want to become an even better one. We are Skerries people, all volunteers, proud of this great town and enormously proud of representing it. The purpose of this building is to allow Skerries Rowing Club to create a capable amenity that will open opportunities to the community.