Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby Devin » Mon Aug 11, 2008 11:33 am

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Some lo-fi mobile phone pictures above taken in 2007 of a 19th century
building in Howth Village. It has a prominent urban design location at the
junction of Church Street and Abbey Street, in the centre of the village.
Looked like it had been vacant for a number of years and was deteriorating.
Some windows had been PVC'd but some early 19th century sash windows were
remaining. There was a For Sale sign, also saying that it had full PP for
renovation and new development to the rear.

I was horrified to return to Howth at the weekend and see the result of the
PP for new development and renovation (see pictures below):

- The prominence of the building at the head of the junction has
been lost

- It has been poorly restored, with bad historic detailing

- The new development is Mullingar engineer style and entailed
demolition of an old village building

Howth village is still very much intact and oozing character, dominated a
big catholic church and with traditional pitched-roof buildings running up
and down the hill and set into the contours. It does not take much study to
identify and retain this character. So why has an abysmally-designed twee
and overscaled 'village style' development been dumped in here seriously
undermining the village design character and fabric and the setting of a key
building?

When you see these type of schemes on a Portlaoise back street you cringe
but think 'what the hell' because the councils are all run by estate agents,
cute hoor councillors and savages, but this is trendy Dublin fishing village
Howth!!

There are some NIAH entries for Howth village here, but the buildings affected
by this scheme are not recorded:
http://buildingsofireland.ie/niah/search.jsp?county=FI&name=&town=howth&townland=&type=quick&page=4




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Is this your idea of consolidation of Howth village, Fingal?




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Just what a village centre needs to create and sustain vitality and activity
in the street - a big wide car park opening.




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These schemes seem to specialise in formless lumps rearing up at the back as
seen here. This is execrably bad Fingal County Council. How could you have
allowed it in the centre of Howth village?? Why is the special vernacular
village character of Howth being killed off like this? What's the story? Are
there no architects or conservation staff working in your council who could
have inputted on this and avoided this atrocious result?




ImageImage

The new windows put in are not copies of the original elegant slender
glazing-barred historic sashes which had survived (left), but have crude, lined, fat
glazing bars (right). I could brain the people who make these windows.




Image

Almost adjoining the scheme on Abbey Street is a medieval building which has
been restored for habitation, and it was all done in accordance with best
conservation practice and with due regard for the importance of the building and
its setting. Story here: http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/property/2008/0501/1209420699583.html
So what happened with the yoke above??
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Aug 11, 2008 1:19 pm

The worst thing about this for me is not the carpark opening - which admittedly could have received a more subtle treatment - but the back view of the buildings on the higher street level. Like it or not, cars are here to stay and any scheme should have parking provision - but the openings need to be better thoughtout - if you need a two lane opening, split exit and entry so the openings are less brutal.

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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby tungstentee » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:04 pm

howth urban centre strategy due out early autumn.
specific urban design guidelines for new development to be included
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby ctesiphon » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:06 pm

*the sound of the stable door closing*
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby henno » Mon Aug 11, 2008 3:11 pm

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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby johnglas » Mon Aug 11, 2008 6:42 pm

henno: too clever! I agree really more with PC's points; a bifurcated open 'shopfront' as an access/egress for the carpark would have been much better, but it's the 'backland' bulk that's the real shocker. However, I don't see how you can get apoplectic Devin about the window dimensions and ignore the awful 'medieval' wirescape and the generally rundown and uncared for fabric in the post office building, for example.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby gunter » Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:21 pm

It's probably fair enough to dump on the twee in-fill scheme for neither having the balls to be contemporary design, nor having the guile to be good pastiche, but to let the 'College' make-over off as 'best conservation practice', is way too generous, I think.

I saw this by chance about six months ago and before I knew the credentials of the people involved, and I didn't want to make an issue out it, because the intensions were clearly good and not enough repair and re-use of former ruins happens IMO.

The problem I have with it, and the current version of 'conservation best practice' that spawned it, is the totally OTT nature of the roof treatment. This was a very modest. low key, vernacular building, there's absolutely no need to make it's new roof shout out 'contemporary intervention' at the top of it's voice. As well as squeezing in extra headroom by raising the roof above the line of the gables, possibly reclaiming the extra depth of thatch?, the battery of roof lights are visually obtrusive and seem to employ the same 'you can't see me' approach that the back of Devin's development exhibits further up the hill.

To me, this heavy handed 'conservation' project has robbed Howth of a small piece of it's charm and together with the folksy generic Scottish? village style development up the street, I'm guessing that an increasingly bewildered public will be left scratching their heads wondering what exacly the architectural, conservation and planning professions are trying to say.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Aug 11, 2008 8:51 pm

I really don't know what to think of that redeveloped ruin, while all in favour of re-use, in Howth's case, it's the elements of antiquity lying around the village that makes it interesting.

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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby Devin » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:00 pm

Come on, gunter, you're being too harsh on the College building. We need a bit of focus here on what really matters. Any compromises to make it habitable have not undermined its character in any fundamental way. It still looks like a really old building from a distance and up close. While Mr. Arnold has very good conservation credentials, he doesn’t always come up with the goods imo (I hated the beefy white granite walls he put on the Ha’penny Bridge abutments in 2002, scandalously replacing original curved sections of railings). But to suggest he is using the same approach as that of a 1993 engineer-designed scheme is an insult.

And, as johnglas said, it's the bulk of the twee scheme, rather than it not 'having the balls to be contemporary design, nor having the guile to be good pastiche' that has done the most damage.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby gunter » Mon Aug 11, 2008 9:45 pm

Devin wrote:Come on, gunter, you're being too harsh on the College building.

While Mr. Arnold has very good conservation credentials, . . . . to suggest he is using the same approach as that of a 1993 engineer-designed scheme is an insult.



I would never insult anyone who wasn't an actual planning official, or a member of the OPW, or the curator of a modern art museum, or a plain clothes garda that I thought was a thug, I don't do that kind of thing.

I just think that the pendulum has swung too far in architectural conservation towards every intervention having to be overtly contemporary, when all that's actually required is a new roof.

I could be wrong, but I doubt that the battery of roof lights were designed to be seen as prominently as they actually appear, which is the comparison I was drawing with the back of the other development, it's there, but we're not really supposed to see it.

Maybe nobody else sees this as heavy handed. It was a little building I was very fond of (great original photograph btw) and now it leaves me cold, I'm just trying to figure out why this is so.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby Peter Fitz » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:28 am

I'd have to agree, the roof significantly detracts from the overal restoration, overpowering the modest original imo. Whatever about the increased height which perhaps was necessary for habitation, the selected finish & proliferation of roof lights were poor choices.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby blaise » Tue Aug 12, 2008 10:29 am

Devin

Just to give you a bit of background on that apartment scheme that you photographed, a much larger scheme which involved demolition of that prominent 19th century corner house was granted permission by Fingal (with the OK of their Conservation Officer!) and then refused by ABP. The second (maybe third) scheme was allowed by ABP which unfortunately lead to the loss of a nice two storey cottage which I felt contributed positively and the inspector even stated that in her report!.
To put it bluntly the approach in Fingal is “development at all costs” and it only pays lip service to Conservation and Design. Its Conservation team seem to have to soft peddle their ideas or are being overturned by their seniors. Its worth remembering that Fingal is far more interested in turning Swords into Croydon than it is in protecting once attractive coastal villages. The real shame is that there is nobody even living in most of these apartment blocks that have been built recently , especially over the last 3-4 years.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby Devin » Tue Aug 12, 2008 8:17 pm

Thanks for the info blaise. Doesn’t surprise me at all that an original application sought to demolish the main house. A lot of Conservation Officers around the country are only there to fulfil the P&D Act requirement to have one.

Given the amount of discussion on Dublin city on Archiseek, there is amazingly little discussion on what goes on in the 3 surrounding boroughs, Fingal, South Dublin & DLR. I got off the Luas at Tallaght recently and thought I had stepped into a parallel universe the place had changed so much since last time I was there. So any info on places like Howth would be good. I understand development in the Howth uplands has been an ongoing controversy for decades, and the seafront is a bit trashed as well, but the village seems quite intact so it would be a shame to see it go.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby fergalr » Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:56 pm

I live in Howth.

The College is one of the oldest buildings on the Peninsula and this diabolically bad pebbledashed disfigurement of it is awful. And the roof, with its skylight windows... :(
The new development is staggeringly bad. It's all the worse for being compared with an excellent extension of a building across the road from it into a tasteful apartment block. This monster looks cheap, the retail units are pointless because there's quite little pedestrian traffic down that road, and it's just... higgledypiggledy and fat and overbearing. In a very real sense, no expense was spared:(
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby gunter » Wed Aug 13, 2008 8:03 pm

fergalr wrote:I live in Howth.

The College is one of the oldest buildings on the Peninsula and this diabolically bad pebbledashed disfigurement of it is awful. And the roof, with its skylight windows... :(


A thin lime render may have been the original finish. It turns out that most medieval and later stone structures were either, lime washed (white washed), or lime rendered. There's a usefull book on the subject of Irish lime rendering on the shelves at the moment (I didn't take note of the title, or the author).

The picture below shows the remains of lime wash on the stonework of an early 18th century house in the grounds of St. James's Hospital (the old Poor House). All the great Irish fortified stone mansions and tower houses from the 17th century and earlier were finished externally in lime render, often with fake stone quoins and fake course lining above, what we would consider to be, superb quality stonework.

Authenticity has a way of conflicting with our sensibilities.

Image

The question with the little 'College' would be, why go out of your way to recreate 'authenticity' with one element of the structure and then go out of your way to be 'contemporary contrasting' with another element? It's too tiny a structure to hang big ideas on it.

I think it might have been better to fend off the conservation best practice taliban and just put a good modest slate roof on the College, or if they wanted to go all zinc and contemporary, keep it ultra thin and low key.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby David Healy » Fri Oct 03, 2008 4:34 pm

Fingal’s previous permission for full demolition was refused by ABP on appeal.

Here’s the ABP decision.

Here's my submission to ABP on the appeals.

You can see from the Inspector's report that my suggestion that development in the centre of a medieaval town shouldn’t necessarily be required to provide on-site car parking was apparently so outlandish that it wasn’t even worthy of comment. In fact the provision of on-site car parking was a box to be checked! The reasoning behind putting a blank wall on Church St. seems to be that there's already a blank wall there so it must be good enough. Although I invited the Board to get access to the work done for the ACA Statement of Character, it would seem from the Inspector's report that they didn't do so.

To what degree what is built conforms to the permission is a question I can't answer.

There is now a Statement of Character for the ACA, finalised after this appeal decision.

There is also information on architectural aspects in the draft Urban Centre Strategy which should be here on the Council’s website but isn’t as at the time of writing. I've been informed it will go up today. Comments to be made on it by 17th October.

Meanwhile at the other end of Church St., the Council decided to grantthis proposal in spite of Development Plan and Architectural Conservation Area Statement of Character references to the importance of the view which it would block. Currently with ABP.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby lostexpectation » Mon Oct 06, 2008 2:07 pm

the strategy doesn't seem to be neutral look on how best to develop howth,but a reason justify large apartments developments, with lots of squiggles about legibility and arrows pointing in random directions for views, i mean the large redevelopment of techcrete is a good opportunity, but the second opportunity has a drawing of a new marine pier block and then beside it a drawing of the same block with loads of new apartments on it and the reports spends it time saying why apartments would be better rather then looking how (light -industrial) marine development would be far more suited to howth.

was it howth where somebody wanted to build a new place to fix boats but i got turned down, a shame, i'd much prefer to see a boat building firm then some fancy apartments

does an area like howth need petrol station, are they going to put a new one at the techcrete site
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby lostexpectation » Mon Oct 06, 2008 4:51 pm

so it looks like community sweetner for the techcrete has got blocked.

Developer halted at Edros site Howth
http://www.briangreene.com/bhg/2008/developer-halted-at-edros-site-howth/


as i always say deliberate dereliction cooked up by developers and councillors in order to get the some people desperate for any old dodgey development and pretend they doing everyone a favour
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby fergalr » Mon Oct 06, 2008 8:19 pm

lostexpectation wrote:
does an area like howth need petrol station, are they going to put a new one at the techcrete site


We'd love a petrol station. And a bank too, if that's not too much trouble.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby ctesiphon » Tue Oct 07, 2008 1:19 pm

You want a bank? I want an economy.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby fergalr » Wed Oct 08, 2008 10:02 pm

Can't have both, it seems.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have discretion to contravene ACA Objectives ??

Postby bhewson » Wed Sep 30, 2009 11:58 am

In reference to David Healy's post above, permission for the development "at the other end of Church Street" was turned down by ABP last year - but PP has just been granted again for a variation of the scheme, which still severely impacts the public views in this ACA area. Local residents are planning to appeal this decision to ABP, and need to make sure we go in there with strong and valid planning considerations - all help and advice would be most welcome.

The statement of character for Howth ACA states:

VIEWS
Preservation of Views. The key views out of the village such as those at Howth Terrace, Church Street, Thormanby Road, Main Street Upper and from the Martello Tower should be preserved and any works within the ACA should not adversely impact or block these views.

In this instance it is the views from Howth Terrace and Church Street which are being adversely impacted – and while there will be a view over the new rooftop it is of the distant sea rather than down to the harbour, which we believe is the view that constitutes the character of this eastern part of Howth village. This development will block the last remaining view to the harbour from this side of Howth.

Q1) Are FCC obliged to stick with the ACA “recommendation” in law? Or is it just a guideline that the local authority can disregard (I note the use of the word “should”). We feel that this is an important and dangerous precedent should this scheme be allowed to contravene the recommendation.

Q2) Does preservation of a view mean preserving some small part or variant or it – or does it mean preserving it as it is and always has been ? (Perhaps that’s one for a Planning Barrister). In this instance the view is certainly “adversely impacted” - so there is a clear contravention of the ACA objectives.

Q3) From your experience - can you tell me if there are any state bodies (An Taisce / Heritage Council / Duchas) who would have an interest in this type of situation (ACAs, Public Views, Contraventions by FCC) and who we could approach make a submission to ABP?

All discussion welcome., and time is of the essence, Appeal has to be lodged in 3 weeks.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby fergalr » Wed Sep 30, 2009 6:03 pm

I'm sorry, is this the old Lighthouse pub site that you're talking about. Something needs to be done about it.
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby bhewson » Wed Sep 30, 2009 7:51 pm

It's not the Lighthouse Pub site - which has been in a disgraceful condition for many years now.

It is in fact a proposed rooftop extension to the abandoned Porto Fino Restaurant, which is on the Harbour Front but will extend upwards now to block views from the streets above.

The planning application, drawings etc can be seen on the Fingal CoCo Website: Register Reference: F09A/0289 (sorry but I am not clever enough to know how to put in a direct link...)

Is anyone aware of any precedent cases, where a local authority has contravened the objectives of an ACA ?
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Re: Does Fingal County Council have any village design standards? (Howth)

Postby lostexpectation » Fri Oct 09, 2009 8:07 pm

techcrete tall building got turned down
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