Photo Credit: Louise Flanagan
UCD’s planned private club is set to cost at least €300,000, with the funding expected to come from University resources. The initial budget has been approved by the university for development of the site and architectural plans. The club is expected to cater to staff, alumni, members of the club and corporate clients.
The plans emerged from the minutes of two Financial Renumeration and Asset Management committee meetings last semester. The minutes note that the club will provide “first-class engagement setting… complemented by conference and event facilities, with opportunities for public and industry engagement.”
The Observer reached out to UCD for comment but has not received a response.
The club is expected to be built adjacent to the current O’Reilly Hall, by the main lake. Planning permission for the club was submitted 12th December 2016 and observation ended 1st February 2017. Permission has not yet been granted.
The club is intended to improve UCD’s facilities as a conference location. Chair of the Societies Council Eoghan Murphy explained that : “The university need[s] to be able to promote the university… as a top class location for conferences and events… It can be challenged by purpose built facilities off campus, the likes of hotels and conference centres. And one of the things that UCD is missing in that space, that those other facilities can offer is a social and recreational space for conference delegates and conference attendees.”
However, the club has already received some criticism from students for being prioritised ahead of other capital improvements such as residences or building refurbishments.
UCD Students’ Union President, Conor Viscardi, who sits on the financial board, said of the club: “we always believe that anything new that’s built on campus should always be there to facilitate and support students and contribute to furthering a positive community dynamic on campus.”
There are, however, no objections from Viscardi noted in the minutes of the meetings. He went on to highlight that one of the main concerns for the union was that students would not have access to it. Viscardi explained that the union had submitted a proposal advocating “that post-graduate students would also have access to it as well if they were graduates of UCD.”
The club has already been highlighted to be open to alumni as it will be a focus point for the alumni network.
Viscardi went on to explain the University’s position, stating “because UCD is a public institution, they have to abide by all these regulations, so they have to put in all these extra submissions, bring in all these extra consultants, bringing in all these professionals to look at developing a very robust plan when they do capital development projects. And that actually is a very costly enterprise.”
He further noted that there were other capital developments, such as refurbishments of faculty buildings scheduled to take place “simultaneously”.
The club is to be built before the UCD residences masterplan begins. The campus Development Plan 2016-2026, outlines plans to build nearly 3,000 more beds. Planning for this is not scheduled to be submitted until the end of 2017.
The Residences masterplan is also scheduled to be rolled out on a phased basis with University Bursar Gerry O’Brien noting that final stages may not commence if it’s not financially viable.