herald

Wednesday 22 January 2020

Planners concerned by Disney Store's security gate to deter homeless

The Disney Store on Grafton Street must address concerns
The Disney Store on Grafton Street must address concerns

Disney may be famous for a Sleeping Beauty, but the Hollywood giant's shop on Grafton Street doesn't want anybody camping out in its doorway.

The movie merchandise shop is struggling to get approval for new security measures to deter homeless people from sleeping in the doorway.

Dublin City Council has sought further information from the business about its plans for a sliding, open-mesh retractable gate to the shop entrance.

An architect described the plan as "a gross overreaction".

Detract

Planners with the local authority said they had a concern about the materials being proposed by Disney as it was important the gate would not detract from the streetscape.

The officials pointed out that the Disney Store is located in the Grafton Street Architectural Conservation Area, as well as being covered by scheme of special planning control which means the use of high-quality materials is "crucial".

Disney has now been asked to address these concerns before a decision is made.

The council said it had a policy which required a high quality of design and finish for new and replacement shopfronts, signage and advertising.

The Grafton Street architecture policy states that the use of externally fitted roller shutters is not permitted and, when used behind a window display, should comprise a fine density open mesh.

The colour of the shutter is also required to match the colour of the shopfront.

The special planning control for the Grafton Street area states that in choosing a security system, retailers must strike a balance between securing their premises and keeping the area attractive.

This is the case particularly after normal hours where window-shopping can play an important role in generating night-time pedestrian activity.

Documents which were filed by consultants acting for the Disney Store claimed homeless people sheltering in its doorway was an "improper use" of the area.

"Staff members of the Disney Store have observed the recessed doorway as being used by the homeless for sleeping, alongside apparent drug use being reported," they stated.

CBRE also claimed gardai had been contacted on multiple occasions to deal with incidents at the shop entrance where staff had been exposed to threatening behaviour and confrontation.

While the council has acknowledged the need for security at the Disney Store in response to what the company described as anti-social behaviour, it said it was important that any proposal did not detract from the streetscape.

An architect, Enda Fanning, also criticised the proposed security measure, claiming it was of a "low grade, industrial design of an unknown material and not in keeping with the area".

Mr Fanning claimed industrial, retractable security gates were being used to get around the restrictions on the use of roller shutters.

"They are aesthetically damaging to a shopfront and streetscape and the council should refuse such planning applications," said Mr Fanning.

False

The architect, who volunteers to help homeless people, said he objected to Disney's claim, as it gave "a false impression" that there was constant misuse of the shop entrance.

He said shops were inconvenienced only occasionally at opening times if a sleeper needed to be moved on.

"For many thousands such recessed doorways across the city and country are the only hope of a bed for the night," he added.

Mr Fanning said the gates represented "a gross overreaction" to the current situation.

"For a company such as Disney to use a planning application to simply 'move on' a problematic issue rather than making an effort to engage on the issue with those working in the area of homelessness is unfair and unhelpful to the overall problem. It is of no assistance to the local community," he added.

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