To me, this case illustrates what happens to highly sensitive redevelopment sites in the absence of a strong planning vision.
This is a corner site on the city's medieval high street, diagonally opposite the cathedral. The site incorporates the two and a half storey remains of a late medieval party wall (including 1st floor carved fireplace). It would be hard to envisage a site with greater redevelopment sensitivities.
However, none of these sensitivities appear to have informed the design of the proposed office block (cafÃ©? on ground floor) which offers the same glass box aesthetic to the streetscape that one imagines it would have anyway, had the site been located anywhere else.
What was the planning response?
The Limerick City planner initially expressed concern about ''no account being taken of the gradient of the street (St. Peter's St.), the scale and bulk of the design and the inappropriate glass box design'', yet nine month later, as the Bord PleanÃ¡la inspector's report stated, virtually the same design proposal was granted permission.
The ABP inspector then went on to citicise the 'scale, bulk and design' of the proposed development, but ''. . . more so in relation to the small scale fabric of the surrounding area rather than the impact on the nearby protected structure . . .'', and recommended refusal.
Taking up the theme of 'scale, bulk and design', the Bord rejected their inspector's recommendation to refuse and granted permission, but with the omission of a full storey and a block to the rear.
So the development will still be a glass box, but now it will be a squat glass box!
Instead of Limerick City Council leading from the front and demanding an architectural response that re-imagines Nicholas St./ Mary Street in the scale and status of it's once great medieval main street, the city will get anonymous scaled down office park in-fill so as not to visibly obtrude in the eroded streetscape of anonymous truncated two storey houses that inhabit the corpse of it's civic heritage.
There isn't even a condition requiring a plaque commiserating with Limerick on the loss of it's civic spine?
A similar contemporary infill glass gabled building from the Cologne Old Market (alter Markt) Quarters might be a nicer alternative than the proposed glass box above. I personally like this steel framed / glass faÃ§ade especially when a site was completely lost. Unfortunately the images are not the best of quality.