Re: Re: “Redesigning Dublin” – Chief City Planner Dick Gleeson’s vision for Dublin

Home Forums Ireland "Redesigning Dublin" – Chief City Planner Dick Gleeson’s vision for Dublin Re: Re: “Redesigning Dublin” – Chief City Planner Dick Gleeson’s vision for Dublin


This was in last weekend’s SBP. Its echoes comments I made about the depay in implementing plans in the city and its good to see the media being proactive in pushing them along.

Also mentioned in a second article/section are Cathedral Quarter and Northern Quarter (or whatever the Arnotts site is called). However since these are relatively recent you can forgive a lack of visible progress.

Many Dublin plans still delayed

25 February 2007
Dublin has experienced a number of cultural changes and has undergone considerable redesign over the past decade, with initiatives such as the Luas, the redevelopment of O’Connell Street and the rejuvenation of Smithfield all changing the face of the city.

But not all of the plans unveiled for the capital over the past number of years have been so successful.

SoHo, the City Markets, the Poolbeg Peninsula, the Cathedral Quarter and Parnell Square are just some of the framework plans launched by Dublin City Council (DCC) in recent years. However, construction work has yet to begin on many of these projects, some of which were first announced more than ten years ago.

Last week, the Digital Hub Development Agency promised that the views of the local community would be central to its plans to develop a new city quarter in the Liberties and Coombe area. The agency is responsible for part of the €2.6 billion redevelopment plan for the Liberties and Coombe, which is to be transformed into a cultural quarter monikered SoHo (south of Heuston Station) by DCC.

Unveiled last April, SoHo encapsulates several framework plans including those for the Digital Hub, Dolphin’s Barn and Cork Street. The plan is to concentrate on family-centred accommodation, schools and public parks with a mix of employment opportunities from the construction of new buildings, the Digital Hub and other technologically-driven services.

The agency launched its latest five-year development plan for the project last Tuesday and hopes that, when it is finished in 2012, between 150 and 250 digital media companies will operate on the nine-acre site, employing up to 3,000 people.

Almost 80 companies are already based at the site, employing 600 permanent full-time workers.

DCC’s senior planner Kieran Rose said environmental improvements for Cork Street are to commence soon, as is the new urban space at Cornmarket, a new Lidl on Cork Street and basic social infrastructure.

‘‘We must be concerned with everything from the iconic to the everyday,” he said.

‘‘The Digital Hub continues to expand, taking new office space throughout the area including 2,000 square metres on Cork Street in the Linsers building and in the new DCC City Lab building.

‘‘Development had been delayed in Dublin 8 and the Liberties for a while but it’s now starting to move ahead.”

Preliminary construction work has commenced at the Clancy Barracks site, which is to accommodate 800 apartments, a hotel and offices. Rose added that work on the Eircom site in the Heuston South Quarter development is well advanced, with the firm’s headquarters due to be completed in the next six months.

‘‘The redevelopment of the various DCC flat schemes is progressing well, with public private partnerships for Theresa’s Gardens and Bridgefoot Street, and the final phase of Fatima is racing ahead,” he said.

However, there are a number of other framework plans where progress has been considerably slower.

The Markets

A €400 million redevelopment is planned for the Markets area of the north-west inner city. Located between Henry Street and Smithfield, the Markets is centred around the Victorian fruit and vegetable market.

The now demolished wholesale fish market, together with the adjacent fruit and vegetable market, was designed and built by Dublin Corporation in 1895.

The rejuvenation of the Markets was first envisaged in 1996,when 109 hectares in the north-west quadrant of the inner city central area was earmarked for rejuvenation. The Historic Area Rejuvenation Project (Harp) was based on creating four local cells within the area, including Smithfield and the Markets.

But while the redevelopment of Smithfield began in 1997 and is now complete, works at the Markets has taken considerably longer to get underway.

Included as a framework plan under DCC’s development plan 2005-2011, the revised draft framework plan for the Markets area is dated January 2006.The fish market site, between Mary’s Lane and Chancery Street next door to the fruit and vegetable market, is to be rebuilt as a commercial and residential complex reaching up to six storeys in height.

The plans include 600 apartments and 60,000 square metres of office/retail space along with underground parking.

The council intends to develop the site as an open civic square between O’Connell Street and the rejuvenated Smithfield, as it is felt that the distance of 1.75 kilometres between Smithfield and O’Connell Street is too great a walk for a physical connection – the new square is designed to be a stepping stone between the two.

The fruit and vegetable market will form the civic square’s centrepiece.

The demolition of the Victorian fish markets in November 2005 was one of the first steps in the council’s regeneration plans.

The first phase of the redevelopment will take place on the fish market and daisy market sites, which will create the bulk of the square, while the second phase comprises the conservation and redevelopment of the fruit and vegetable market, restoring many of its external Victorian feature and redeveloping it internally to increase its capacity for retail food sales.

However, this is a long-term prospect, with building work yet to start.

Paul Crowe of DCC said the council had invited six groups to take part in competitive dialogue regarding the fish market site. He said the council would ask at least two groups to submit tenders in the next month, after which a contract would be awarded for the works at the fish market site.

The council served a public notice last December looking for expressions of interest, in part taking in competitive dialogue – a new process being undertaken prior to tendering.

Heuston and Poolbeg

Two years ago, DCC announced a multi-billion euro redevelopment plan for the city, which included the rejuvenation of rundown areas. More than half a million square metres of commercial property was designated for development and up to 7,500 houses were to be built, with the bulk of this housing and office space designated for the Heuston and Poolbeg areas.

While the Heuston area has seen progress with the construction of residential developments such as Heuston South Quarter, there has been a considerable lack of development at Poolbeg, the manmade peninsula at the east end of the city core.

The framework plan for the regeneration of Poolbeg comprises two documents – the Southbank framework and the Poolbeg project – both of which have three distinct character zones including an urban quarter, office and retail space and recreational areas.

DCC’s senior planner Mary Conway said the peninsula was two miles from the city centre, yet there was a sense of isolation and disconnection.

‘‘We want to ensure it is reconnected with the city centre and our plans include the introduction of a public transport dedicated bridge connecting the end of Sir John Rogerson’s Quay with Poolbeg, which would make it much more accessible,” she said.

Since the launch of the plan, Conway said the council had created a series of 24 public space infrastructure projects within the Poolbeg site. These landscape plans identify service routes that would need to be improved and built to connect the peninsula back into the wider city.

‘‘We have created design briefs for each of the projects and a costing on them,” Conway said. ‘‘The Poolbeg peninsula is divided into three phases, the first of which incorporates a total of 700,000 square metres of development.

“This will include 500,000 square metres of residential property and 200,000 square metres of commercial space.”

The first phase is expected to incorporate a development by Liam Carroll’s Fabrizia Developments on South Bank Road on lands formerly owned by the Irish Glass Bottle Company, according to Conway.

‘‘Fabrizia was granted planning permission for the scheme, however this is on appeal to An Bord Pleanala and we are awaiting a decision,” she said. ‘‘It will incorporate 22,000 square metres of commercial units and 18,000 square metres of residential space.”

Parnell Square

Located at the heart of the city at the northern end of the rejuvenated O’Connell Street, Parnell Square is one of the earliest formal squares laid out in Dublin. But it is currently undervalued and underused, and the public’s perception of the area is poor.

A framework plan to transform the square into a cultural destination was launched in February 2005.

The €200 million public and private invested plan envisages the upgrading of footpaths, lighting, trees and bus lay-bys to the same standard as O’Connell Street, rejuvenating the Ambassador Theatre, improving the entrance and gates of the Garden of Remembrance, expanding the Dublin Writers’ Museum, providing a new hotel on the Colaiste Mhuire site and a new city children’s garden and creche on the north-west corner.

The first phase, which includes improvements to pavements, roads and parking, as well as installing decorative street lighting and planting trees, is expected to cost more than €25 million including the €12 million being spent on the extension to the Hugh Lane Gallery. This phase was due to be complete within 18 months of the plan being announced, but that is now two years ago.

‘‘The public improvement works are at an advanced design stage but construction work has not started on the improvements to the roads, pavements or lighting yet,” said Mary Conway. The time frames for the second and third phases will not be announced until the first phase is complete.

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