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.