RNLI Donaghadee

RPS were engaged by RNLI to provide planning, heritage, design and project visualisations, for proposed improvements to the lifeboat mooring facilities at Donaghadee Harbour, County Down.

The proposals which consisted primarily of improved access and new fenders, fixed to the existing harbour wall, serve to enable better transfer of crew and casualties to and from the lifeboat. Furthermore, the improvements will also ensure the lifeboat is protected from damage whilst moored.


Whilst the RNLI have been operating a lifeboat from Donagahadee harbour for over 100 years, the delivery of the proposed works poses difficulties due to the amenity and heritage value of the site. The harbour area is a focal point for the town, popular with locals and visitors alike. Furthermore, the harbour and associated structures represent significant heritage assets with both the lighthouse and the harbour itself being listed structures.

The planning and listed building applications were required to demonstrate a sympathetic approach in terms of design and construction methodologies whilst also being required to deliver a functional solution for RNLI.


Following a number of design iterations and consultations with Ards and North Down District Council planning department and DfC Historic Environment Division, a refined design was proposed by RPS which was considered sympathetic both in terms of scale, materials and construction methodologies.

A planning application and listed building consent were subsequently submitted to the council planning department, following which, RPS hosted a visualisations sessions which allowed both planning and heritage staff to view the proposals within a fully immersive Virtual Reality (VR) experience. Staff were able to undertake a walk-through of the harbour site and view the proposals from both close and distant viewpoints, including from the harbour wall, directly adjacent to the fenders and even from atop the lighthouse. The visualisation session was well received by those attending who commented on the quality of the images and the value of being able to gain a first person view of the proposals within the harbour setting.

Planning and listed building consent were awarded in August 2018 and RPS are continuing to work with RNLI on delivery of the project.

Project statistics

  • Delivery of development within sensitive heritage setting;
  • First use of VR as part of statutory consultations during live consenting process.

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