Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin

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It is unfortunate how the demand for ‘modern floorplates’ and the resulting ‘need’ for extensive demolition has largely been taken at face value. This need has not been adequately proven by the applicants, yet it is on this central issue that the development proposal hangs. I do think the planner has admirably weighed up the policy objectives in the Development Plan regarding the reinvention of buildings in the ACA for modern uses versus conservation requirements – this is rigorously argued. But critically, it is not the exclusive issue in this instance: rather it is the adaptability of the existing buildings within this commercial context – in particular the retention of the Victorian with the potential for infill in the middle – that is at stake. Yet this question hasn’t even been asked. The applicants have stacked up the case as a pair of non-negotiable questions: 1. Retention of all buildings as non-viable, and 2. Retention of the corner for ‘major conservation gain’, with the development concession of demolition to the rear. Question 3 isn’t on the table, never mind a Question 4. In my view, this is developer-led development. They haven’t posed all the options, so the planning authority won’t either.

The question also has to be asked that, with the exception of Carlton, this is the first ‘regular’ case to come before the planning authority posing demolition in the O’Connell Street ACA, and almost certainly it is going to be granted. This does not set appropriate precedent or standards for the rest of the ACA where the key issue of the adaptability of existing buildings is not being thoroughly assessed. This is the key objective of any ACA, and if the principle cannot even be relied upon in the premier ACA in the city, never mind the State, one cannot hold up much hope for the rest of the country.

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