O' Connell Street, Dublin

Re: O' Connell Street

Postby StephenC » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:04 am

Dublin Central recieved a very substantial request for revised plans from ABP today. I will try and post it later but its more or less required a complete redesign of the whole development. Among features is the omission of the iconic building, a redesign of the pedestrian streets, reduction in the extent of demolition and changes to the O'Connell Street entrance. The applicants have until Nov to respond.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby paul_moloney » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:25 am

Am I the only one who thinks O'Connell St is beyond help? Sorry for being a downer, but we're at the end of 15+ years one of the longest economic booms we've had, the street is as bad as ever, and we're past the point where there is any money to deal with the problem.

Sure, it has gained the Spire, some new trees and new widened pavements. On the other hand, the street still only has one decent store, Easons (Clery's as always resembles something from the Soviet era), and the northern end of the street is now even worse. The Savoy has a lovely new lobby, yet now has screens smaller than some people's televisions. I work near it and the number of dodgy characters has increased in the last year; one day alone I saw a fist fight in the middle of the street and am attempted snatching. No guards around; they were probably off somewhere arresting pregnant ex-travel agents.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby alonso » Wed Aug 12, 2009 11:51 am

O C St is infintely better than 20 years ago - less traffic, more people. yes it's still a bit shit but 20 years ago it looked like the Helga had just been in town and not way back in 1916. There are huge issues to resolve but the removal of the trees, the widening of the pavements and the reduction in car traffic has made it a far better place. There are dodgy characters on every main street in the world.

There's a long way to go and the redevelopment of the Western side will have a massive impact as will metro. Feel free to give up but i hope you're in the minority
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby paul_moloney » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:10 pm

alonso wrote:O C St is infintely better than 20 years ago - less traffic, more people


Can't say I have noticed a difference in either of this myself. "More people" is not necessary a good thing and has certainly not translated into better shops anyway.

but the removal of the trees, the widening of the pavements and the reduction in car traffic has made it a far better place.


As I said in my original post, these have happened and have improved it, but we're talking about 15 years of an economic boom. In that time, we've gotten trees and a pavement. This doesn't inspire much confidence in the future.

There are dodgy characters on every main street in the world.


O'Connell St certainly has nowhere near the same welcoming atmosphere as, say, Grafton St. I mean, I'm from the inner city myself so not exactly unused to rough areas, but apart from tourists, the average Dubliner does not saunter up O'Connell St to window-shop or enjoy a coffee/brunch. And Abbey St is downright intimdating these days with gangs of junkies hanging out at the Luas stops, occasionally attacking the tram with a golf umbrella like I saw a while back.

There's a long way to go and the redevelopment of the Western side will have a massive impact as will metro. Feel free to give up but i hope you're in the minority


Well, as I said in the my original post - it's now been 15 years, when the country was swimming in money. For the forseeable future, the country will be paying billions in interest to artificially prop up property prices for our developer overlords. O'Connell St was shit when I was a student, it still shit (with trees) now that I'm (almost) middle-aged. There's a difference between pessimism and realism, and I think I'm being realistic here.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby JoePublic » Wed Aug 12, 2009 12:46 pm

StephenC wrote:Among features is the omission of the iconic building


While the reduction in demolition (including Henry Street I hope?) is welcome, ABP really know how to take the fun out of things some times.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby alonso » Wed Aug 12, 2009 1:54 pm

paul_moloney wrote:Can't say I have noticed a difference in either of this myself. "More people" is not necessary a good thing and has certainly not translated into better shops anyway.


true but activity is always better than desolation. The northside of town in my younger days was an empty hostile collection of surface car parks and a few shops thrown in between the dereliction

As I said in my original post, these have happened and have improved it, but we're talking about 15 years of an economic boom. In that time, we've gotten trees and a pavement. This doesn't inspire much confidence in the future.


I agree and this can be applied right across the board to Docklands development and Transport investment. However in relation to O C St i don't think it's possible to overstate the impact of the ongoing neglect and legal wrangling over the Carlton etc sites. To leave an entire quadrant in limbo at this location through the boom for any reason was sinful.

O'Connell St certainly has nowhere near the same welcoming atmosphere as, say, Grafton St. I mean, I'm from the inner city myself so not exactly unused to rough areas, but apart from tourists, the average Dubliner does not saunter up O'Connell St to window-shop or enjoy a coffee/brunch. And Abbey St is downright intimdating these days with gangs of junkies hanging out at the Luas stops, occasionally attacking the tram with a golf umbrella like I saw a while back.


Maybe not but uses that have enlivened the street through the boom such as the Ambassador venue and cinema etc on Parnell St west have brought Dubs up the street. Plus the random, chaotic yet thriving Parnell st east with it's hotch potch of pubs and restaurants has given the area another dimension. From my teenage years through my early 20's the only reason me or my friends ever ventured up O C St was to go to Fibbers. I think there's more there now. Yeh Abbey street is a bit f'n rough alright but 20 years ago there was zilch on it apart from buses and the theatre - at least there's a few decent pubs on Middle Abbey St nowadays... only a few mind you


Well, as I said in the my original post - it's now been 15 years, when the country was swimming in money. For the forseeable future, the country will be paying billions in interest to artificially prop up property prices for our developer overlords. O'Connell St was shit when I was a student, it still shit (with trees) now that I'm (almost) middle-aged. There's a difference between pessimism and realism, and I think I'm being realistic here.
P.


That's all fair but to be specific about it, if Arnott's and Chartered Land (??Carlton site developers??) and the the RPA are able to carry out their plans, regardless of what's going on in the wider Irelandworld, O Connell Street will undergo major positive changes in the next 10-15 years. Obviously we all agree that this should have happened or at least started happening in 1998 when the IAP was released but good ol institutional inertia and government idiocy prevented that.

maybe when you reach middle age and old age itself you will finally get the main street you want - enjoy the stroll with your zimmer frame in 2040!!!
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Yixian » Wed Aug 12, 2009 2:16 pm

Hmm, I agree that O'Connell Street needs a lot of renovation, much tighter restrictions on the hideos ads that plaster every building along it and definitely much better shops.

But all those things should be doable, and if done it could be huge attraction and a well regarded street throughout Europe.

It's already on the way there, imo, it doesn't look half bad right now, it's actually quite nice, it's just the fact that it should and could be so much more than just "quite nice" that angers us.

EDIT: And I have to agree, the streets signs need to be changed asap. There's supposed to be the creation of a "unifying brand for Dublin" soon right? Slip it in with that - consistent, clear, good quality streets signs for the entire city.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Wed Aug 12, 2009 5:39 pm

It gets a bit barren the further up you go. I think getting some chain to open a big fat department store near the top would be a good idea - Harvey Nichols or John Lewis, or even Brown Thomas. Banish the fast food restaurants and Spars to side streets and give subsidies to fashion retailers and good quality restaurants to set up. Force all owners to maintain their own buildings to a standard appropriate to the dignity of the street, or face closure and huge fines within one month. It's not that hard if they have the will, and that's why an elected mayor with real power might do wonders.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Yixian » Wed Aug 12, 2009 6:32 pm

rumpelstiltskin wrote:It gets a bit barren the further up you go. I think getting some chain to open a big fat department store near the top would be a good idea - Harvey Nichols or John Lewis, or even Brown Thomas. Banish the fast food restaurants and Spars to side streets and give subsidies to fashion retailers and good quality restaurants to set up. Force all owners to maintain their own buildings to a standard appropriate to the dignity of the street, or face closure and huge fines within one month. It's not that hard if they have the will, and that's why an elected mayor with real power might do wonders.


Genius, and yet, so simple.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby ac1976 » Mon Aug 17, 2009 8:30 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote:It gets a bit barren the further up you go. I think getting some chain to open a big fat department store near the top would be a good idea - Harvey Nichols or John Lewis, or even Brown Thomas. Banish the fast food restaurants and Spars to side streets and give subsidies to fashion retailers and good quality restaurants to set up. Force all owners to maintain their own buildings to a standard appropriate to the dignity of the street, or face closure and huge fines within one month. It's not that hard if they have the will, and that's why an elected mayor with real power might do wonders.


Such powers go beyond those any Mayor will have, and are closer to those of Czar or Dictator. We would need a new constitution to confer those powers on any office.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:19 pm

ac1976 wrote:Such powers go beyond those any Mayor will have, and are closer to those of Czar or Dictator. We would need a new constitution to confer those powers on any office.


Let's not be stupid about these things. If a mayor gets elected with a promise to do these things, then he's got a mandate and the city council will fall in behind him. An elected mayor would be able to set a real agenda where a bunch of bickering city councillors all on an equal footing wouldn't. The former mayor of Montpellier who transformed that city is an example.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Yixian » Mon Aug 17, 2009 1:37 pm

It's true, particularly when mayoral elections have high turnouts these directly elected Mayors can really push a lot of things forward - I remember pre-transformation Montpellier, you wouldn't have thought in a million years they could have cleaned it up as quickly as they did. It's a step away from committee thinking and sometimes that's one of the major roadblocks to just doing what needs to be done.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby forrestreid » Mon Aug 17, 2009 9:18 pm

rumpelstiltskin and yixian:

It doesn't matter HOW high the turnout is and WHAT support the mayor has from the councillors, if an elected mayor tried to do things like banning pre-existing fast food restaurants and Spars from O'Connell street he will get a bloody nose from the Supreme Court before you can say "Rumpelstiltskin".

Go and read Article 40.3.2 of the Irish Constitution before ye post any more, lads (it is the one on property rights).

And before you start getting huffy with me, I do not like it either, but I am guessing that most FF and FG backbenchers do, so i cannot see it being changed this side of the Revolution. :rolleyes:
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Mon Aug 17, 2009 11:00 pm

Obviously that depends on the character of any mayor, doesn't it. Nobody wants O'Connell St. swamped with fast food restaurants.

It's in the power of Dublin City Council to restrict the opening hours of fast food restaurants on O'Connell St., to force them to close at, say, 7pm. And would it be sensible for a fast food outlet to remain open on that street when they could decamp to Henry St. and stay open all night?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby forrestreid » Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:48 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote:
It's in the power of Dublin City Council to restrict the opening hours of fast food restaurants on O'Connell St., to force them to close at, say, 7pm.


Could you quote the government Act or regulation that gives Dublin City council this power?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby ac1976 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 9:05 am

forrestreid wrote:Could you quote the government Act or regulation that gives Dublin City council this power?


Obviously it doesn't exist, and never will.
DCC tried their best to get rid of the naughty knicker shop on O'Connell St and the mobile phone shops on Grafton Street, but the only actual power they have is to create statutatory area plans which restrict future planning approval (the Carlton Site being the most recent victom of this).

The satatutory area plans (O'Connell st area plan, and special retail planning zone, or whatever it's called) can have unwanted affects on development too by restricting the interest of developers with cash, which is contrary to the objective and reason the plans were voted for in the first place.

Its probably time for a new approach, and any intending Mayor might well try and shake a carrot at the developers rather than the stick.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Tue Aug 18, 2009 10:59 am

forrestreid wrote:Could you quote the government Act or regulation that gives Dublin City council this power?


No, because I'm not a lawyer and it would be tedious looking for it. Besides, your own quote of a statute in Irish law was stupid, because it says nothing but that people have the right to private property. The relevant element of your argument is that the supreme court interpreted this to mean that, for example, Ann Summers could not be closed down on O'Connell St., once they had opened.

However, I will give you a link to this article which I read some time ago, where it is suggested that Dublin City Council may close city centre off licences at 8pm in the interests of public health. Note that it also mentions restricting fast food opening times. Even if they don't have this power, they clearly think they can get it very easily.

http://www.dublinpeople.com/content/view/616/55/

Obviously it doesn't exist, and never will.


Not so obvious after all is it. You really think City Councils have no say over the trading hours of retailers? And never will? There's a difference between restricting opening hours and closing down existing businesses.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby ac1976 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:08 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote:No, because I'm not a lawyer and it would be tedious looking for it. Besides, your own quote of a statute in Irish law was stupid, because it says nothing but that people have the right to private property. The relevant element of your argument is that the supreme court interpreted this to mean that, for example, Ann Summers could open up a sex shop wherever they liked.

However, I will give you a link to this article which I read some time ago, where it is suggested that Dublin City Council may close city centre off licences at 8pm in the interests of public health. Note that it also mentions restricting fast food opening times. Even if they don't have this power, they clearly think they can get it very easily.

[url]http://www.dublinpeople.com/content/view/616/55/[url]



Not so obvious. You really think City Councils have no say over the trading hours of retailers? And never will?


You need to read between the lines in that article. DCC have the power to grant or reject planning applications, thats all. They do not have to power to revoke already granted planning applications. So it would be unfair for example to restrict opening hours of any new fast food restaurants without applying this to exisiting ones (which the council does not have the power to do). So a legal challenge might be sucessful if DCC decided to restrict any new applications which is exactly why they have Area Plans which are carefully written legal instruments to allow for restricting future planning application for certain things is what is a legally fair way. Thats the whole point fo them.
And they already exist in the case of O'connell street with limited impact.

If they could get more powers easily they would already have done it, so clearly its not so simple.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Tue Aug 18, 2009 11:32 am

Are you sure the council doesn't have the power to restrict trading hours of existing businesses?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby ac1976 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:15 pm

rumpelstiltskin wrote:Are you sure the council doesn't have the power to restrict trading hours of existing businesses?


Well it's just my own opinion, but I dont beleive they do.
They are not even able to enforce the restrictions that they attach to planning applications anyway, such as the no stickers in shopfront windows.

The only way to control the opening times of ALL fast-food restaurants for example would be to introduce a licensing system, such as that for pubs. This would have to apply to all premises and I'm not sure what the benefit would be anyway? Considering the costs involved it would be silly.

Whats wrong with fast-food anyway? What would your solution be?
I think it is preferable that they are scattered around the center of the city as this is safer at night, avoiding larger congregations of drunks and larger crowds if say there were only designated areas for last night eating.
Thats what the council want too, and that's what the special planning zone for O'Connell St does by effectively capping the number of fastfoods at the current level.

What is your solution? And what problem are you trying to solve anyway?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:21 pm

The problem is that they cheapen the general feeling of O'Connell St., and represent one of the most obvious reasons why it continues to resemble a grotty, smelly armpit. One or two is fine, but half the shops on O'Connell St. are either fast food restaurants or convenience stores.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby ac1976 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:34 pm

rumpelstiltskin wrote:The problem is that they cheapen the general feeling of O'Connell St., and represent one of the most obvious reasons why it continues to resemble a grotty, smelly armpit. One or two is fine, but half the shops on O'Connell St. are either fast food restaurants or convenience stores.


I agree they do cheapen the street, but I dont see how restricting their hours of business would solve that, it could make it worse. There is currently a ban on any new fast foods on the street as well as convience stores as far as I know (or at least no change of use planning application for these will be granted). This has made little improvement.

I think the solution is to attract less cheap and more up-market retailers to the street, and DCC have made a bit of a mess of this as the same Area Plans and Retail Zone Plan they brought in to tackle the problem of the undesired shops has left the Carlton Site without planning permission despite the council granting it!

The Area plans need to be updated and refocused on what is desired, i.e. more carrot and less stick.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:43 pm

Yes, but considering the main street status of O'Connell St., even if these retailers suffer in the recession, the last place they'll close down is O'Connell St. It doesn't matter what you do to improve everything else, you'll still have a street swamped with fast food restaurants, and more importantly fast food wrappers and bits of burgers and chips and the smell of grease pervading the main street of the capital. So what I'm suggesting is that fast food retailers should be given a reason to move off the street. Maybe other people have better ideas.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby ac1976 » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:12 pm

In terms of planning, maybe if some space was made available underground as part of the Metro Stop for Fast Food this might be a pull away from on-street outlets.
It would make sense as this is common in other cities.
For example, McDonalds etc could be offered space in a couple of metro stops in exchange for their leases on O'Connell Street.

This is what I mean by the carrot approach, its far more flexible and there's no end to what you can do to entice.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Devin » Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:32 pm

There was a review of the Scheme of Special Planning Control for O'Connell Street this summer, and a revised document. Can be opened at the bottom of this page: http://www.dublincity.ie/Planning/OtherDevelopmentPlans/SpecialPlanningControlSchemes/Pages/ReviewofO'CStreet.aspx

The objectives haven't changed - improve the use culture and shopfront design, avoid concentration of certain uses etc. etc.
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