herald

Saturday 25 October 2014

Iconic city treasures at risk of ruin in neglect

SOME of the capital's most iconic buildings -- such as the Iveagh Markets in the Liberties and Boland's Mill -- are in danger of collapsing due to neglect.

The former Hume Street Hospital, just off St Stephen's Green, is also under threat, says an An Taisce Buildings At Risk report

Numbers 14-17 Moore Street, where the 1916 leaders surrendered, is on the list, as is Aldborough House on Portland Row in Dublin 1, which is "one of the city's principal Georgian landmarks".

In all, more than 200 historic buildings dotted across the city require urgent attention before so much damage is done it becomes impossible to save them.

Many of the buildings were bought at the height of the property bubble and are now lying empty.

National heritage trust An Taisce says the landmark buildings are collapsing before our eyes. It wants to document the "large numbers of vacant or derelict historic buildings in the city", numbering more than 200.

It is also calling on Dublin City Council to "urgently take steps to protect these sites".



Collapse

At the root of the problem is the collapse of the property market, leaving empty buildings and sites assembled for development.

An Taisce said the council has powers to "combat this large-scale dereliction of architectural landmarks and prime city streetscapes".

It accused the council of being ineffective in using these powers.

"This neglect will literally add millions to future refurbishment costs," An Taisce said.

The council's official city register of derelict sites only contains 36 buildings. While the owners of properties which make it on to the schedule are fined by the local authority, much of this money remains outstanding, with more than €670,000 going unpaid as of last year.

The council says its main priority is to ensure the property owners carry out the works required to render the buildings non-derelict.

"The council is always willing to discuss our requirements and meet with property owners as required," it says.

An Taisce said a concerted efforts is now needed to prevent Dublin's "return to the ravaged, derelict state which caused so much damage in the 1980s".

"The time for taking action to secure a building is when it becomes vacant or when signs of vandalism or water damage appear, not after the roof has been allowed to collapse or the site becomes dangerous."

An Taisce also called on NAMA to address the maintenance of buildings in its loan portfolio.

It pointed to the example of Temple Bar, where CIE had intended installing a central bus station but instead of demolishing the buildings, it leased the space to artists and small business on a short-term basis, creating a vibrant quarter.

comurphy@herald.ie

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