Grafton Street is now such a kip that I refuse to walk it anymore. It is baffling how a prestigious street, initially brought down with lower order uses such as mobile phone chains and the loss of specialist shops - and long acknowledged as such by everyone, even including the moronic Irish media - is now entering complete freefall in how the place is presented and the quality of the uses pervading. Once one passes the manicured, if somewhat plasticised, elevations of Brown Thomas, the street presents all the qualities of the main drag of a third rate London suburb - ten years ago.
Is it any wonder major international retailers will not touch Grafton Street with a bargepole. Certainly, if I saw potential in the Irish market for my brand, I would be over to grand and elegant Henry Street in a flash. Or imperious and spacious O'Connell Street, or parts of Dawson Street at a push. Grotty, grubby, garish Grafton Street is now a badge of destruction - not distinction - for any quality retailer and is to be avoided at all costs. The non-existent planning enforcement is shocking, but equally, these myriad crude interventions reflect the mediocre business culture on the street, where many owners and occupiers want investment from DCC handed to them on a plate when they don't even know their own brand or the type of quality environment their customers want. The amount of plastic windows, signage, awful shopfronts, banners, postering, finger signs and speaker music all indicate an absentee landlordisim - much of it pension fund generated - and a business class of occupiers that just don't recognise the urban quality of what they could have.
But yes, the lack of proactive implemention of any planning tools at DCC's disposal is the greatest problem on our hands. Their carelessness and mismanagement of this thoroughfare is really quite shocking and at this stage they should be held to account by the Department of Environment. Likewise, the implementation of their own policies - as with the protection of shopfronts such as Boots, highlighted by Service charge above. The painting of this, one of the last polished timber shopfronts in Dublin, containing a number of historic elements, was granted late last year.
Giving us this delight from Bromley high street.
Elegant reticence of an old lady...
...transformed into utter mediocrity, on a Protected Structure, in an ACA on the city's 'premier' street.
At least the polished granite plinth still survives.
Also the glazing bars before they were painted.
The delightful timber signage with gold lettering has now been replaced with plastic. DCC quality control alive and well as ever.
In honesty, I'd sooner see a million quid spent on some decent large concrete slab paving for the street and the other seven million plus for the bells and whistles regeneration be redirected into a fund to clean up the street's buildings. It ain't gonna happen otherwise.