Wednesday 25 May 2016

Don't change our historic city centre warns architect

THE 'down-at-heel' appearance of a street in Dublin's city centre should be retained and not given a "bland" makeover.

The national heritage agency, An Taisce, has lodged objections to a number of plans for new buildings in the historic city centre location of Thomas Street.

And Shane O'Toole, from the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, said that he believes Thomas Street was lucky to escape the glut of development during the Celtic Tiger.

"Some people might look on the area as being neglected and poverty stricken. It missed out on the boom, but I think it was lucky that it escaped the crass new development we have seen all over the city," Mr O'Toole said.

Thomas Street is in one of the oldest parts of the city, just outside the original walls.

"It's the type of place that James Joyce would recognise as his Dublin. It's special -- there are all sorts of little buildings sitting cheek by jowl," said Mr O'Toole.


"It is one of the only roads to have pre-standard Georgian housing from the end of the seventeenth century. You can imagine what Ireland was like under the British empire and pre-Celtic Tiger boom."

An Taisce has already lodged appeals against the demolition of iconic department store, Frawley's, and against another development which they said would not fit in with the overall look of the street. They withdrew their application for the latter once their concerns were allayed.

"There have been instances of developments going ahead and now they can't find any tenants," said a representative for the national heritage agency. "We don't want to see this happening on Thomas Street."

Until last year Frawley's department store had traded for 115 years at the city centre location. An Taisce have appealed against the decision to raze the building and build a five story office and retail building in its place.

The submission said that the plan failed to comply with conservation area policies of the Dublin City Development Plan. There were a number of objections to the initial plan from groups, such as conservation lobbyists and street traders, who all said that the height of the building was completely inappropriate for the area, but the council decided to grant permission.


An Bord Pleanala are now reviewing the file and will give a decision later on in the year.

"We are losing the mix of higgledy-piggledy, jumbled-up buildings and giving in to uniform, bland and homogeneous development which will change the shape of Dublin utterly," added Mr O'Toole.


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