Todays Sindo wrote:U2 finally get go-ahead for â‚¬150m hotel plan
Experts outraged at revamp nod
By Larissa Nolan
Sunday November 18 2007
U2 have finally found what they're looking for -- planning permission for a â‚¬150m revamp of the Clarence Hotel.
The rock supergroup have been given the green light by Dublin City Council to go ahead with controversial plans to turn the landmark property in Temple Bar into what Bono claims will be "the most spectacular hotel in Europe". His friend, former US President Bill Clinton, stayed at the hotel last night.
But conservationists and environmentalists have expressed outrage at the decision to allow Bono and The Edge to demolish four neighbouring listed buildings and erect a spaceship-style atrium on top.
Under planning law, council's should only give permission to demolish listed buildings "in exceptional circumstances".
Michael Smith, environmentalist and former head of An Taisce, the national heritage trust, has blasted the council's decision as "illegal" and accused U2 of "the biggest demolition of protected structures in Ireland in years".
Even the council's own City Conservation Architect, Clare Hogan, advised a refusal.
Ms Hogan said in her report, which was included in decision documents, that the planned development did not meet legal requirements. "The band were unable to provide exceptional circumstances as required under the Planning and Development Act 2000, to allow demolition of protected structures."
"The decision is reminiscent of the climate of 1960s speculative development."
Michael Smith -- who has been against the development since U2 applied for permission earlier this year -- said Clare Hogan's comments are damning.
"The planning authorities clearly ignored the good advice of the City Conservation Architect. She is blatantly saying that this should not have been given permission and recommended a refusal.
"Essentially, her comments say that permission in this case would be illegal. And it is."
However, senior executive planner Anthony Abbot-King felt the scheme was "an exemplary design solution" and that the owners have shown the existence of exceptional circumstances for economic reasons and through the proposal to reinstate facades, as well as the need to rejuvenate the west end of Temple Bar.
He also considered that the four Georgian buildings were in "poor to very poor condition".
It is expected that An Taisce, as well as the Irish Georgian Society, will soon make an appeal to An Bord Pleanala.
And Michael Smith has vowed that, should An Bord Pleanala give the go ahead, he will personally challenge the permission in the courts.
Co-owners Bono and the Edge plan to demolish the Georgian buildings and transform the 44-bedroom boutique hotel into a 141-bedroom, five-star hotel and spa complete with signature restaurant, bar and fresh food market.
The "skycatcher atrium" on top will be visible from all over the city.
The hotel was designed by the internationally-renowned architect Norman Foster. A recent online poll found that three-quarters of architects on website Archiseek believed the development should not be given permission.
- Larissa Nolan.
Rockers U2 have angered environmentalists in Ireland with plans to build an unsightly skyscraper in Dublin.
Building heritage group An Taisce has criticised the group for its plans to demolish the Clarence Hotel - which the band owns - and redevelop the site through a â‚¬136m investment programme.
The organisation has called for an investigation into the so-called 'U2 Tower', which is set to be the tallest building in Ireland.
Ian Lumley of An Taisce, says: "Our biggest concern is that the U2 Tower will stick out of the skyline from parts of Georgian Dublin. It could potentially be an incongruous blot on the skyline on the south side of the city."
Lumley also claims the band has ignored the impact of climate change on the proposed building - which could be affected by rising sea levels due to its position at the mouth of Dublin river.
Clarence Hotel plan backed despite architect's warning
Frank McDonald, Environment Editor
Dublin City Council's planners decided to grant permission for the redevelopment of the Clarence Hotel despite being advised that it would "dominate all views of the city quays, overwhelming the Four Courts and important views of City Hall".
City conservation architect Clare Hogan, in her report on the application to demolish all but the front faÃ§ades of the hotel and adjoining listed buildings, also said it would be a "direct repudiation" of city council planning policy to permit it.
The â‚¬150 million plan, drawn up by international architects Foster + Partners, would retain the quayfront faÃ§ades on Wellington Quay to provide 114 large bedrooms and 28 suites, oversailed by an elliptical flying saucer-like structure at roof level.
Describing such faÃ§adism as a "meaningless, discredited architectural device", Ms Hogan said: "Allowing this approach to Dublin where historic buildings retain their integrity and interest is reminiscent of the climate of 1960s speculative development.
"Dublin's beauty as a capital and its claim to being one of the greatest of surviving Georgian cities depends on its whole fabric of streetscapes rather than a collection of resounding buildings - the quiet ease of understatement, something rarely found in Europe.
"From the 18th century onwards, artists and engravers have left many celebrated views and vistas of the city from scenic viewing points along the Liffey, featuring landmark buildings. The proposed building would have a significant detrimental impact on these views."
Under the 2000 Planning Act, Ms Hogan noted that a planning authority "shall not grant permission for the demolition of a protected structure . . . save in exceptional circumstances" - such as if the structure was dangerous.
But the Clarence Hotel Partnership, a joint venture by developer Paddy McKillen and U2 band members Bono and the Edge, had been "unable to provide exceptional circumstances as required . . . to allow demolition of protected structures", she said.
"The applicants have neglected routine maintenance and allowed the external faÃ§ades to deteriorate into a superficially scruffy condition, but otherwise the buildings are in good structural condition," Ms Hogan said, recommending against granting permission. She also noted that the protected structures on the site - the Clarence Hotel, the adjoining Dollard printing works and four Georgian buildings - had all been rated as regionally important "and the lesser ratings provided by the applicant are inaccurate and misleading".
A copy of Ms Hogan's report has been submitted by An Taisce to An Bord PleanÃ¡la as part of its appeal against the council's decision to approve the scheme. Separate appeals have been made by others, including former An Taisce chairman Michael Smith.
In its appeal, An Taisce said that neither the council planner's report on the application nor its decision "properly addresses the legal requirement to prove 'exceptional circumstances' in granting permission for demolition of protected structures".
An Taisce's Kevin Duff said project architects Foster + Partners "make much of comparison with European city hotels such as the Ritz in Paris" but the "best-known and most prestigious" hotels in Europe are older converted historic buildings.
"This proposal constitutes the largest proposal for demolition of protected structures in a single scheme in Ireland since the current architectural heritage legislation came into place with the implementation of the 1999 Planning Act," Mr Duff said.
(Monday, January 7, 2008)
Â© 2008 The Irish Times
ctesiphon wrote:Sadly for Ms Hogan (or perhaps fortunately) her involvement ended at DC level, though if it goes to an Oral Hearing I'm sure she'd be called on again.
The Office she occupies has no right to acquire buildings, btw, and I'm not sure if she can afford it herself.
missarchi wrote:No vision... No sense of place...
missarchi wrote:Can I suggest she put together a proposal for reshaping Dublin and prepare to acquire/control key buildings....
missarchi wrote:There is nothing stopping her from lobbying for amendments to framework plans and acting in the dail...
missarchi wrote:Whats the worst answer she gets no... and if they say kinda or yes she may have the right that is what you kept forgetting...