Shopfront race to the bottom

Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Fri Oct 07, 2011 1:38 pm

"Hurry on down to Bargaintooooooooown...where the signage is only famous!!"
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Smithfield Resi » Mon Oct 10, 2011 12:07 am

StephenC wrote:"Hurry on down to Bargaintooooooooown...where the signage is only famous!!"



..and the planning permission is entire absent. For anything. Ever. Great way to not breach a condition.

however I have to give them credit for the clean up of the odd triangle left by the LUAS around the corner. It has the IPA posters off and is being treated for rat infestation. Lovely. I do however understand that an urban garden has been given a grant.

Just wish they would take the ugly corner sign off.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Cathal Dunne » Tue Oct 11, 2011 11:01 pm

Reading threads about Dublin vs other Irish cities or Dublin vs the country on other sites (such as Boards.ie), one of the common refrains against Dublin is that it is a "kip". While this is self-evidently false (there are countless points of natural and human-made points of beauty in and around the city) I do feel that the shoddy standards in shop signage feeds into the impression that Dublin is a kip. As I've said before if the DCC fixed this problem, freed the city of 250 unnecessary poles and got rid of all the substandard and unsightly pavements then perceptions of Dublin as a kip would abate. If we want to be serious about our bid to be the 2014 World Capital of Design we should be getting basics like this right.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Mon Oct 17, 2011 8:40 pm

Where best to put this....

Dublin's latest high quality retail attraction is currently being fitted out on St Stephen's Green. EuroGiant, a brand of the UK 99p Store chain, looks like it will open its doors this week (its store fitout being of the cheap and cheerful variety). What a great pitch! Juts across from Dublin's swankiest hotel and fronting onto salubrious St Stephens Green North and KIldare Street, the store is set to attract punters of the high flying shopper variety as well as politicos and top civil servants. Rumour has it that EuroGiant beat the likes of Louis Vuitton and Prada for this prime pitch. We wish them well...

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/property/2011/1013/1224305702360.html

Interestingly the store opening spurred a rare foray into the world of "what we put on our streets" by a Failte Ireland Director, Ciaran O Gaora in y'days Sunday Indo Business Section http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/failtes-warning-over-pound-shop-2907505.html . "I dont believe its going to be an enhancing, positive move for the area in terms of the nature of the character area or the tourism experience", he says. Fair play to him..its rare enough to hear aparatchiks of the system with some clout actually raising these issues.

Where is DCC on this matter? Well as it happens the unit EuroGiant have taken was already in retail use so no planning permission needed. Permission is needed however for signage and there is no record of an application as yet. No doubt it will be ignored unless someone complains to enforcement (not nextdoor neighbour Lisney who thinks its a great idea...business is business). Maybe poor old Adams auction rooms. Anyhow, we have long given up hope of a proactive planning enforcement section at DCC. They have been eviscerated with staff cuts and one suspects told by their masters to occupy themselves with more worthwhile things.

So any joy with the various Plans for the area - the St Stephen's Green ACA? Sorry there isn't one. The Grafton Street and Environs Special Planing Control Scheme...must have a gander through that dusty document but I cant imagine it extends this far. Besides it hasn't done much good for Korky and co and their full building advertising.

This scheme was adopted in 2007. The extent of the Area of Special Planning Control is identical to the 'Grafton Street & Environs Architectural Conservation Area'. The purpose is to reinvigorate Grafton Street as the South City's most dynamic retail experience underpinned by a wide range of mainstream, independent and specialist retail and service outlets that attract both Dubliners and visitors to shop, sit and stroll, whilst re-establishing the area's rich historic charm and urban character.


Maybe the retails group in the city DCBA cares about the quality of city streets and has greater aspirations for this site and for the northside of one of the city's finest squares than a EuroGiant. Perhaps the have been proactively working with the building owner to target suitable high quality tenants for this site while also working with 99p Store to ensure their shops go in appropriate locations where they blend in.

Alas I fear those chaps have neither the clout nor the imagination.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Tue Oct 18, 2011 12:08 am

This development is symptomatic of what has been consistently highlighted here on Archiseek over the past three years or so - namely how Dublin city centre is slowly but surely falling apart at the seams in terms of the quality of uses, shopfront and building presentation, and the virtually complete absence of planning enforcement.

It is an exceptionally rare event - bordering on a first in Dublin - for a state agency, and a prescribed body at that, to actually use their God-given position to justly highlight the planning failings of another arm of the public service, allbeit indirectly. As Stephen mentions, Euro Giant are fully within their rights to set up shop in this district under current legislation. But they shouldn't be.

The faultline emerges in Dublin City Council's failure to designate St. Stephen's Green an Architectural Conservation Area - or indeed any area in the city where such a protection may be perceived to in any way hinder development potential. Instead, DCC have carried out preposterous paper exercises elsewhere to keep the 'heritage lobby' happy, ranging from the daft Henrietta Street ACA (yet to be implemented), probably the smallest ACA in the State, through to the bonkers Fitzwilliam Square ACA, which is bounded on all sides by no less than 69 Protected Structures. Both are noble aspirations in their own right, but in a city where principal urban spaces and streets remain entirely vulnerable to piecemeal erosion, comprised of a jumble of buildings to which the ACA mechanisim is largely tailored towards, ranging from St. Stephen's Green to Dame Street to the city quays, this is a ridiculous situation. Especially so nearly twelve years after the mechanisim was first enabled under the 2000 Act.

From a visitor perspective, either tourist or citizen visiting the city, the 'presentable' areas of Dublin have been slowly diminishing since the late-2000s. Even with the high profile investment in O'Connell Street, the thoroughfare is now surrounded by the slow stealth of decay on Parnell Square, the quays, O'Connell Bridge, Westmoreland Street, D'Olier Street, Dame Street and Grafton Street, while Dawson Street is increasingly a shadow of its former self. In this sea of decline, St. Stephen's Green always appeared to buck the trend and be off bounds, in spite of the destruction wrought by traffic and Luas engineering. Sadly, even this is no longer the case.

One cannot over-emphasis the importance of protecting the Green. More than any other part of Dublin, perhaps with the exception of the Powerscourt Town House district, it is an area that everyone identifies with as having an unmistakable touch of 'magic'. It is a place that remains deep in the mind of children, tourists, shoppers and leisure seekers - it is, in effect, Dublin's only open space of resort.

As such, the opening of a large-scale discount store on the Green should not be viewed purely through the lens of 'higher order' uses or luxury brands. Rather, it is the very nature of what establishes itself here is what matters. It must be unique, distinctive and memorable, provoke curiosity, and blend with the identity of this cultural and lesiure quarter of the city as a coherent character area. What is currently happening is catastrophic for Dublin's tourist offering and an insult to Dubliners who avail of the Green precisely to avoid the likes of what is setting up shop here.

Another example of conflicting policies and a complete lack of joined-up thinking can be observed a few minute's walk away in another nationally important context. Planning has just been granted to Trinity College for the conversion of the former AIB on Foster Place to restaurant use (not superpub this time), with elegant new restaurant shopfronts facing onto Anglesea Street. The planner conditioned that a single, handsome projecting sign finished in bronze be omitted from the development on Anglesea Street "in the interests of the visual amenity of the area". Meanwhile, around the corner, with the ink not even dry on the permission, DCC has just granted two nasty corporate projecting signs facing directly onto College Green stuck on a nationally-rated Protected Structure, adding to all the other projecting muck beside it. Even worse, DCC conditioned that these were to be 'antique style' and submitted for their approval. So evidently this is what they approve of.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Cathal Dunne » Tue Oct 18, 2011 2:51 am

You're right about Dawson St. Graham - it lost Waterstone's last year which was a fine and stylish emporium and guess what it's getting this year - a discount book shop. While these places are doing valuable service in providing cheap reads to people in tight times their proliferation has only served to underline the sharp drop in living standards this country is currently experiencing. As well as this their shopfronts are cheap and tacky with little aesthetic merit. Bargain bookshops with their bargain shop signs are yet another indicator of the cheapening of Dublin City.

When are the City Council going to do something about all this?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Tue Oct 18, 2011 9:57 am

I think the point is they aren't!

Yet the Council are extraordinarily sensitive to criticism. When elements of the "heritage lobby" (hate that phrase) raise their heads above the parapet about these matters they come down on them like a ton of bricks.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Cathal Dunne » Fri Oct 21, 2011 12:56 am

StephenC wrote:I think the point is they aren't!

Yet the Council are extraordinarily sensitive to criticism. When elements of the "heritage lobby" (hate that phrase) raise their heads above the parapet about these matters they come down on them like a ton of bricks.


Well I suppose that's the root of our problem, isn't it? An indifferent City Council. We need a city council who cares about this and imposes basic standards which are rigorously enforced. If we want to be serious about presenting and developing Dublin as an international city we need to get basics like street signage right. I've been looking at a few documentaries which have had several sequences shot in places like Paris and the streetscape seems several steps ahead of us - everything looks so much better and cohesive. I fear Dublin's character is being deformed by this barrage of cheap, tacky and insensitive signage.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby mrdarcy » Fri Oct 21, 2011 2:56 pm

I suppose its not so much the use that matters, its the appearance that is the issue. A 'casino' has opened in Talbot Street, which doesn't look overly bad, but you would prefer a high class restaurant etc. there instead.

The city have really taken their eye off the ball though. Signage quality is virtually non-existant, maybe the BIDs scheme could look at it or the chamber of commerce since they care so much. There is the issue I suppose that something is better than nothing and this is probably the case with Starbucks on Westmoreland St in the old EBS building. Much better in my view than Tesco around the corner in the old ESB building.

Footpath quality has declined, unnecessary street signage is everywhere, RTPI poles popping up sometimes a few weeks before bus routes are pulled from the stop, over proliferation of bus stops (sometimes by the same state company), I could go on.

Comparing us to Paris.....not sure what we have in common these days, same type of trams? JCDecaux? Bikes? Thats about it.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Rory W » Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:43 pm

As DCC rely on commercial rates they're not going to rock the boat on anything. One person could do this job (enforcement) if the will was there, but it's not.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Smithfield Resi » Tue Oct 25, 2011 3:41 am

[quote="mrdarcy"] maybe the BIDs scheme could look at it [quote]


Seems to be their members who are among the worst offenders; at least when it comes to fabric banners...
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby exene1 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:29 pm

What is this trend of bombarding buildings with crap??

Here is the Bachelor Inn in 2009 from Google Streetview, with late-19th century architectural character perfectly well presently:

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And the state of it now, with banners, bunting, footpath signs and fake heritage crap in the windows:

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That stretch of quay from the corner of O'Connell Street to the Arlington Hotel is lile tatty knackerville, and now the Bachelor Inn has succumbed too. The reason is always the same: Dublin City Council are not managing the city. They're not enforcing. Building owners and occupiers sense a low level of protection for the historic core, and do whatever they like.

The Bachelor Inn is a Protected Structure and within a Conservation Area.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby exene1 » Thu Dec 01, 2011 4:14 pm

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The O'Connell Street Area Shopfront Design Guidelines (2003) contained specific recommendations for the improvement of the appearance of Protected Structure No. 14/15 Lower O'Connell Street which is a good quality brick & stone grid-frame building of the 1920s. Some design and signage improvements were recently carried to the convenience store shop at No. 15 in accordance with these guidelines under planning application 3004/08, notwithstanding an unpermitted Subway illuminated sign in the window.

However, at the other shop - No. 14 - things have actually got WORSE since the guidelines were published. The discount bag shop there, which doesn't even have a name on the fascia, is using an advertisement banner across the shopfront which is contrary to the Special Planning Control Scheme for O'Connell Street which says ‘Banner type signs and advertising sheeting covering any façade or part of a façade of a building is not acceptable.’ (Section 4.2 - New Advertisement Structures).

And, previously, the entrance to the upper floors had the building number sign - '14' - above the doorway, which the 2003 shopfront design guidelines recommended be relocated level with the fascia of the two shops. But instead it has been replaced by a bigger, cheaper and nastier version in the same place. See pictures.

Who is policing? Why is there no resistance against such low standards? Why aren't Dublin City Council implementing the plethora of planning documents they enacted for the improvement of O'Connell Street, even in simple cases like this where it would be easy to achieve a result and prevent cheap rubbish from being put up? This is a stretch of O'Connell Street which is otherwise quite smart and well presented, and that's saying a lot.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Dec 02, 2011 1:15 am

Yip - DCC were informed of the change of the upper middle sign in addition to the major issues you mention about two years ago, and nothing has happened.

Indeed, the new Londis shopfront was specified to be limestone, but they erected cheaper granite. The blazing floodlights above have no permission, all their clutter on the pavement is not permitted, and they have posters all over their windows, including the adjacent new café - in spite of both the ASPC regulations and the conditions of planning permission.

Supermacs across the road erected new 70s-style plastic signage on its shopfront fascia earlier in the year and its windows are now plastered to the point of obscurity, while on Upper O'Connell Street the notorious Spar in the Lynams Hotel building just threw their banner back up over their chrome fascia back in the summer, after being instructed at least twice to take it down in the past few years. It's still there of course.

What's the point?

Wait now and watch the annual spectacle of all the mobile phone shops in the city cover their buildings in advertising banners over Christmas, making the place look like a kip while raking in a cumulative few million out of the city in free advertising.

Anybody in charge at all? Anyone?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Sat Dec 03, 2011 7:22 pm

Tourism is a competitive game; I'd imagine that the competitor cities cannot believe their luck from these images which seem to be presenting themselves at ever more sensitive and central locations. Do all the enforcement section staff live in Lucan and commute on the no. 25 bus?

The Bachelor Inn, what a massacre of what was easily one of the best pub exteriors in the county. Change of brown bread supplier would get the food crowd in who would buy multiple pints out at €4; but only when people trusted the exterior to get an authentic Dublin meal. €3 pints do not make money.......

What kind of morons are getting control of what have the potential to be good businesses and when will senior management at DCC get the message tourists do not have to visit Dublin they have a choice in avoiding visits to what is rapidly becoming a tacky environment.

I would greatly support the Fruit Market project receiving DCC funds, which are tight, but what is the point is creating a flagship project when built enviroment standards are going down the toilet elsewhere?

DCC need to get ontop of their patch in the way credible local authorities do and have retailers appreciate that consent is granted when appropriate and that attempts to get away with it are an expensive mistake punished by Inns Quay's finest earners.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Cathal Dunne » Sun Dec 04, 2011 3:55 am

DCC should make an example of some of these offenders. They should go to them in the morning with their staff and take down all the illegal signage and street clutter and refuse to collect the rubbish of the offending business until such time as they create a shop frontage which does justice to the ancient and wonderful city in which we live.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby OisinT » Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:52 am

Is there no structure in place to issue fines for non-compliance?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom....or the top

Postby StephenC » Fri Mar 30, 2012 4:02 pm

Well its the latest craze to hit Dublin. Last year we had milkshake bars making yummy shakes from every conceivable chocolate bar. This year its the turn of Ye Olde Sweetie Shopes... here are some recent pop-ups (in the parlance of the times)

Temple Bar

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Fownes Street

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Dame Street...Aul Mr Simms

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Sun Apr 29, 2012 12:42 am

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby lauder » Tue May 01, 2012 3:36 pm

More tackiness for Westmoreland Street. I dispair!

Fexco Currency Exchange had put in for PP for new signage. Ignoring the fact they already illegally installed a protruding sign recently.

Dwgs: http://www.dublincity.ie/AnitePublicDocs/00367902.pdf

App No: WEB1062/12

I hope someone has the energy to object?

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Tue May 01, 2012 4:12 pm

Ah yes, recently posted on the Westmoreland/D'Olier Street threads. I thought about objecting but its a waste of my time. The truth is it is resented..by the City Council which views public interaction as a nuisance and by the city business community which just wants to do whatever it wants to buildings such as these...public comment not welcome.

Having observed how public comments to the proposed Mountjoy Square ACA were dealt with - ie not one submission taken on board - I have lost faith.

Let the crap accumulate...

(I am only this grumpy because of the rain)
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Fri May 11, 2012 10:35 pm

Progress of the worst kind on Batchelors Walk and the eponymous pub mentioned above back in Nov. Just when you were wondering if anything else could be added to the building (as regards banners, signage, etc)....then...

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LED comes of age...adding vibrancy and vitality to the street!
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Fri May 11, 2012 10:40 pm

Looks like they sold a jobs lot...

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and then popped around to Capel Street

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Both these locations are ACAs - whatever that means. I spotted a senior DCC planning official looking quizically at the signs on Capel Street.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby lauder » Mon Jun 18, 2012 9:44 pm

What can be done to transform a high-street for less than £500,000. A bit of joined up thinking on Leyton High Road in East London. Sadly something so cheap and simple is way beyond most Irish planners and Councils.

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2160777/London-2012-Olympics-Leyton-High-Road-gets-new-look-thats-Notting-Hill-EastEnders.html?ICO=most_read_module
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:20 pm

Thats a great story..perfect for Thomas Street?
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