Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin
Ha yes – Heuston is sadly the worst, as it is one of the most striking and elegant lighting schemes in the city. Waiting outside it for the Luas the other week, I counted of the 37 lamps on the central block facade a grand total of 7 working. It would be better if they were just turned off.
Back on O’Connell Street, the notorious Spar shop in the Lynam’s Hotel building, with its host of long-term unauthorised signage and attendant street frontage clutter, has just been granted planning permission for on-street tables and chairs. A number of issues are raised by this permission.
Firstly of course, the shop is already riddled with unauthorised signage, including the recent re-erection of a SPAR banner in front of the principal reticent chrome signage as erected in accordance with the ACA and Area of Special Planning Control (ASPC) provisions. This banner recently sat there for well over a year until it was removed on foot of at least one, if not multiple, DCC enforcement notices (only as a result of complaint, needless to say). Extraordinarily, they’ve put it up again and it’s been there for months already – almost without question at the time of the planner’s site inspection, when the shopfront was also littered with unauthorised postering and all manner of stands positioned out on the pavement in contravention of the ACA and ASPC. This was neither referenced in the planner’s report, nor was the new permission made conditional on these elements’ removal.
Secondly, as highlighted on this thread at the time of the ASPC’s statutory six-year revision last year, absolutely nothing constructive or of substance was added to the provisions of the ASPC as part of this process – in fact, the ASPC was weakened with the removal of at least one important control in relation to upper floor presentation. Areas highlighted here at the time as requiring addition included design and management regulations for outdoor seating, barriers and cordons, building floodlighting, canopies and awnings, etc – all glaringly obvious elements in need of policy guidelines. A year on from this non-entity of a revision exercise, and hey presto, the Spar case planner observes: “There is no specific guidance in relation to the provision of outdoor seating areas in either the Architectural Conservation Area or the Area of Special Planning Control”, and was therefore forced to rely on vague brushstrokes contained in the IAP for guidance.
Thirdly, the submitted report from Dublin-based Tom Duffy Architects is an exposition in student internet copy and paste at its best. It is disheartening to say the least to read one’s own internet material on O’Connell Street being churned back verbatim in an exercise promoting the grubby interests of non-compliant convenience stores. The report doesn’t even relate how the proposed seating will impact on the Victorian double-plot facade of the impressive former Royal Bank, instead listing the likes of interior elements and even the roof with the remarkable observation of ‘no impact’ – eventually arriving at the insightful conclusion that on-street seating does not impact on historic fabric, without so much as a description of the architectural character of the building nor the potential streetscape visual impact.
Nonetheless, a number of encouraging conditions were made for the grant of permission. The crude proposal to erect shoulder-height plastic panels adorned with Insomnia logos topped with Perspex screens surrounding the entrance to the shop was rejected by the planner in favour of waist-height, plain canvas cordons erected on dark-coloured weighted metal posts. Oddly, no stipulation for canvas colour shades was made. The proposed brown plastic, wicker-effect chairs were also disregarded in favour of “the quality and materials of the existing street furniture provided by the City Council in O’Connell Street”. In my view this marks a deterioration in design standards, with untidy looking, crass chrome-effect metal chairs now almost certain to replace the more muted aesthetic proposed. Due to understandable concerns of the case planner regarding the management of the proposed seating area – serving a convenience store rather than a full-time café or restaurant – a temporary permission of three years’ duration was granted. This seems an extraordinary length of time for a development model that has ended up non-compliant within six months nearly everywhere it exists in the city.
Also, if those awful plastic pens are rightly deemed as unsuitable for O’Connell Street, why are they being used without authorisation and with full corporate branding by Beshoff’s directly across the road – never mind on nearly every commercial street in the city?
We seriously need some joined up thinking, in terms of planning policy, design vision, consistency of decision-making, and planning enforcement.