U2 signals a move from Hanover Quay

Tuesday 29 January 2002 19.30

Members of the rock band U2 have signalled tonight they may leave their recording studio at Hanover Quay in Dublin's south docks. In a statement, the band said that while they love the docklands and are very happy with their present studio, they "appreciate that change is inevitable and often for the best".

U2 disclosed they are in continuing discussions with the Dublin Docklands Development Authority and stated they would definitely consider moving to somewhere in the vicinity if a suitable property was offered.

The announcement comes as something of a surprise, given that U2's legal representatives attended a public hearing today at the Gresham Hotel into the proposed demolition of their studio and forcefully opposed it.

The public hearing into the demolition of buildings in Dublin's docklands, including U2's studio, will go into a second day tomorrow. Witnesses put forward by the band are due to be cross-examined.

Talks between the band and the Authority have failed to result in a compromise. The Authority is seeking a Compulsory Purchase Order over an area at Grand Canal Quay and the Dodder Locks on the south side of the capital.

Architect Phelim Dunne was one of those who have been explaining this afternoon why U2 wants to retain their studio on Hanover Quay, but the band members themselves have not attended the hearing at the Gresham Hotel.

Garret Simmons, BL, for U2, argued that the studio complied with the zoning of the area and it was in keeping with the atmosphere which the Dublin Docklands Development Authority apparently wanted to create. The multi-million selling album, "All That You Can't Leave Behind", was recorded in the studio.

However the Authority's Director of Planning, Terry Durney, said earlier the demolition of the buildings was a key objective and that retention of the existing structures was not an option when creating a public amenity and providing access to the Grand Canal Dock. An Bord Pleanála inspector, Padraig Thornton, said he hoped to reach a decision on the matter by early April.