Also absolutely extraordinarily, Douglas Wallaceâ€™s exquisite egg-and-dart cornice of crisp Portuguese Moleanos limestone installed in the mid-1990s and until now part of arguably the best contemporary shopfront in the entire city has been painted over in gloss paint!
This is just plain madness. What is going on here!? There seems to have been not so much as an iota of input from a planner on this job, let alone a conservation architect. What an absolute disaster and a shameful waste of money.
Critically, no planning permission was applied for for these works. Curiously however, in an instance of â€˜minorâ€™ development such as this, it is arguable that a Protected Structure in an ACA actually has less
protection than than of a non-protected structure. As bizarre as this may sound, it is entirely possible, as a Protected Structure in an ACA just goes through the usual Protected Structure procedure of applying for a Declaration as to what is and what is not a permissible alteration. Effectively it is up to the opinion of a planner and/or contracted assessor to decide what would and would not materially alter the character of the structure. By contrast, a non
-protected structure in an ACA has the precise protection of the development management policy set out in the ACA, which expressly stipulates examples of what would require planning permission such as in the case of Grafton Street: â€œThe provision of lighting on the exteriors of structuresâ€ or â€œThe attachment of any wires, cables or pipes to the front of any building.â€ Therefore it is entirely possible in this case that a planner or contracted individual compiling a Declaration issued a general blurb about the facade, while a planner rubber stamped the works for â€œah only a bit of repainting and fitting of some lights to spruce the place upâ€. Arguably if it was non-protected the planner would/should have consulted the express provisions of the ACA and thus requested an application for permission for the installation of lighting. This is all assuming of course that BTs even contacted the planning authority at all.
This exact same scenario occurred in respect of Irish Nationwide at the corner of Oâ€™Connell Bridge in the Oâ€™Connell Street ACA. No planning permission applied for and the facade was mauled with outrageously large lighting units. This simply has got to stop.
This awful Brown Thomas job merely compounds the equally dreadful impact of M&Sâ€™s new rooftop restaurant across the road. Not only does the new structure and attendant railings clutter the roofscape of this once-charming early Victorian building, but the utterly preposterous array of umbrellas mounted along the terrace further consolidate the appalling vista now offered of Grafton Street from College Green. This entire scheme should never have been permitted and has ruined one of the premier views of a street anywhere in the city, least of all its flagship retail thoroughfare. Equally one of the most elegant and unique early retail buildings in Dublin with its fairytale parapet of parapet urns piercing the skyline has been wrecked. Simply appalling stuff across the board. So much for Protected Structure or ACA legislation. Youâ€™d find better use for them wrapping the chips of your hastily acquired McDonaldâ€™s further down the street, as to add insult to injury, the â€˜restaurantâ€™ is simply appalling.
(To try and negate some of the negativity, the M&S renovation of the store itself has been spot on â€“ an excellent example of sharp contemporary styling incorporating existing historic elements).