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Monday 9 December 2019

Apartment plan for Magdalene site 'negligent in the extreme', say locals

A chimney stack at the site is listed as a protected structure
A chimney stack at the site is listed as a protected structure

Donnybrook residents are making a fresh attempt to block a controversial apartment development on the site of a former Magdalene Laundry.

An appeal has been lodged with An Bord Pleanala against the recent decision by Dublin City Council to grant planning permission for the demolition of the former laundry at The Crescent to allow for the development of 44 apartments.

In 2017, a 25-unit residential plan for the site was withdrawn, and the applicants for the revised plan said a later archaeological dig at the site uncovered no burials.

The developer, Pembroke Partnership, won approval last month for the development of three apartment blocks up to four storeys high and the refurbishment of an existing building.

One local objector, Dr Brendan Tangney, has accused the council of being "negligent in the extreme" for allowing a series of major developments on an "ad hoc basis" in the area after years of no activity.

They include plans for a new hotel on The Crescent and the redevelopment of an office block, Smurfit House, on Eglinton Road.

Sensitive

Other new developments are expected on the sites of a petrol station and the former Kiely's pub.

He said that to describe the site of the former laundry as culturally and socially sensitive was an understatement, and he questioned what input former residents had on the future use of the property.

While Dr Tangney admitted the former laundry buildings were "an eyesore", he said the new development would result in the overlooking and overshadowing of other houses.

Residents have also complained that they face being "sandwiched" between the apartments and a new hotel.

Dublin City Council made it a condition of permission that the developer will provide "an appropriate memorial" on the site to honour the memory of the women who worked in the laundry and to ensure it would be accessible to the public.

A former chimney stack located within the site was spared demolition as it was listed as a protected structure in 2012 as a way of honouring former residents of the laundry.

The facility was run by the Sisters of Charity from 1883 to 1992 and was one of four Magdalene facilities in Dublin where hundreds of young women worked.

It was sold to a private company that continued to operate it on a commercial basis until 2006.

Campaign group Justice for Magdalenes had claimed in 2017 when there were plans to develop 25 luxury apartments that the State was "morally obliged" to buy the building and to preserve it as a museum.

Consultants for Pembroke Partnership said the development had been designed in a manner respectful of its past and claimed it would make a positive contribution to the area, "creating a vibrant, sustainable community".

A ruling by An Bord Pleanala is due by the end of January.

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