Re: Re: Heuston framework plan

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@jimg wrote:

I think even among some of the well-meaning planners and critics, there is a subconscious belief that height is the most important characteristic of a building. .

I think this site may also be witness to that time honoured strategy of developers to seek permission for an 11 storey building by first applying for a 13, or 15 storey building.

One of the hardest things to accept about the western half of the HSQ development is the fact that the potential hard edge to the formal gardens (that we’re talking about) never seems to have been even considered, once that ‘Line of Sight’ to the Infirmary was set down as a seemingly immovable parameter.

In dealing with the Royal Hospital, I think it would be fair to say that there has been a long history of nobody knowing what to do.

Just after independence, there were those outline proposals to turn the RHK into a new parliament complex published in The Manchester Guardian, in 1923, followed by decades of use as a Garda headquarters, before total renovation in the early 1980s and ultimately conversion to use as IMMA about 1989.

In the meantime, the grounds were abandoned to nature and the corner, where the HSQ development is now being developed, was covered in sheds and warehouses, some operated by the OPW themselves and some leased to the P&T (Eircom). In 1997, Dublin Corporation produced the ‘Kilmainham and Inchicore Action Plan’, which identified the ‘Eircom’ site as the desirable location for ”the relocation of a substantial amount of visitor parking and coaches” as well as being the site that offered the best opportunity to create a new vehicular entrance to IMMA to take the presure off the two historic entrances, ‘The Richmond Tower,’ and the older Irwin Street entrance (the one now graced by the ‘pimp my art museum’ toilet roll holders).

Unfortunately this was the beginning of the era when the OPW couldn’t see past the dollar signs in their eyes, so a very different strategy was concocted.

The OPW’s first move was a seemingly bizarre planning application to double the size of the existing, very large, car park on the west side of the RHK. Unsurprisingly this application was thrown out by the Planning Department on the basis that it was clearly in breach of the local area Action Plan and also, given that there was never more than a handful of people in IMMA at any one time, the existing car park was patently more than adequate to handle visitor numbers. The OPW were undetered by this setback and appealed to Bord Pleanála stating that ”’There is an immediate and urgent requirement by the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) for additional car parking to cope with the current visitor demand . . ”
Unbelievably Bord Pleanála overturned the refusal granted the car park extension with token conditions about tree planting and a designated bus parking zone. With this permission in the bag, the OPW wasted no time in tarmacing the whole thing up to the wall of the Garda station.

At the time this just seemed like a daft waste of public money, but the full extent of the devious little manoeuvre soon revealed itself with the posting of a vast planning application for the OPW / Eircom site, which was now fully exploitable on the commercial market, free from any requirement to accommodate visitor access or visitor parking for the multitudes clamouring to access the art in IMMA.

The result of all this is:

1. Now (numerous planning applications later) we have several million square feet of development, in a jumble of multi-storey blocks, crowding onto a part of what used to be the curtilage of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, with no master-plan for the rest of the grounds and no attempt to acknowledge the imbalance that is in the process of being created.
2. We have (probably) the biggest inner city surface car park in Europe which can only be accessed by driving cars and buses around three sides of the most important 17th century building in the country.

3. We have the remaining ‘Meadows area’ of the Royal Hospital lands routinely treated as a patch of waste ground to be leased out to commercial concert promoters, corporate fun games event holders and an annual, two ring, circus, despite the fact that the lands, being the site of the Knights Hospitallers Priory, are supposed to be zoned for archaeological protection and every tent peg and circus truck is potentially damaging archaeological strata below the churned up grass.

4. The final ironic twist is that half of the vast surface car park at the Royal Hospital has now been cordoned off and designated as ”Eircom Car Park No. 3” to provide a 120 space shortfall in the basement parking provision at the corporate office blocks built on the HSQ site. This is the part of the car park for which there was ”an immediate and urgent requirement by IMMA for additional car parking to cope with the current visitor demand” !!

The western half of the IMMA car park now cordoned off for Eircom, with circus tents in the distance.

The ‘Meadows’ area recovering from one of the recent concerts.

Sorry, this went on a bit.

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