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How garish shop signs make city look ugly

DUBLIN'S historic city centre has been allowed to degenerate with "garish" shopfronts dominating streets, it is claimed.

Dublin City Council is being asked to respond to criticism of its policy with Westmoreland Street, Dame Street and the South Quays said to be the worst hit in a report by An Taisce.

Labour's Dermot Lacey raised the issue at a meeting of the council's economic and planning strategic policy committee (SPC) this week.

Cllr Lacey told the Herald the streets mentioned in the An Taisce document had "degenerated into looking awful".



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He said the council agreed to compile a report on the controversy after it was accused of "reckless neglect" of the city centre by not taking action against unauthorised shopfronts.

An Taisce noted the council was not using "all powers at its disposal" to ensure planning permissions were complied with.

"Further deterioration of this prime city-core area must be arrested as a matter of urgency. There are major implications for the economy and the status of Dublin as a European capital of letting it continue to slide downwards," the heritage body warns. It recommended the council "must appropriately staff and resource" its planning enforcement section in order to address the problems.

There must be a "real possibility of court injunctions for offenders", An Taisce said.

Another recommendation was that the local authority must implement an active policing role "so that harmful changes can be tackled as they happen and don't become established".

It added: "The main thoroughfares immediately south of the Liffey -- Westmoreland Street, Dame Street, Parliament Street and the south Quays -- are becoming a black spot of lower-order shops and fast-food restaurants with cheap, garish shopfronts and signage."

While the problem is city-wide, it is "most pronounced" in these streets because of their "major civic and architectural importance". An Taisce said the areas under consideration are "right on the tourism nodes of Trinity College, Dublin Castle and Temple Bar".

comurphy@herald.ie