Re: Re: Smithfield, Dublin
And reported in today’s Irish Times
COUNCIL TO ACT ON 200 DERELICT SITES
AN INITIATIVE to put some 200 vacant, abandoned or derelict sites in Dublin city back into productive use is being developed by Dublin City Council.
Planning experts from nine different European countries are in Dublin this week to advise on how best to address the capital’s growing numbers of “brownfield” sites which have become a blight on the city.
Brownfield lands – commercial and industrial sites which have fallen into disuse or become derelict – had become a major problem in the city up to the 1980s when tax incentives were introduced for their redevelopment.
Such incentives were instrumental in the renewal of Temple bar and the Dublin Docklands. The economic boom years also increased development of former industrial sites in the centre of the city.
However, the abrupt end to the boom has left a legacy of new brownfield sites as properties were bought and often demolished by developers who then ran out of money to build on the land.
City planner John O’Hara said site owners and the council needed to take a step back from the grand projects of the boom which were no longer practicable and look at realistic short and medium-term uses of the land.
“We have seen the large plots that were granted permission in the excitement of the boom that are now vacant or underused sites. In places where le grand project has fallen flat on its face everything has ground to a halt.”
The larger the site the bigger the problem posed as banks were unlikely to release substantial funds for their redevelopment. However, smaller-scale uses were an option for these sites such as “hot desking”, where sole traders and start-up businesses can rent short-term office space, or the use of vacant plots for markets or arts and events spaces.
“The idea is to keep an area buoyant, to put a space back on people’s mental map, maybe through small-scale shops or residential use. It’s not to say that all big projects are bad, but we need to kick-start the use of the land if confidence is to be restored. And that includes the confidence of the banks,” said Mr O’Hara.
The council would be approaching the owners of all 200 sites and offering to write design briefs for them, with which they can then approach banks or estate agents.
The council had fallen foul of the hubris of the boom with grand plans which were no longer achievable.
“Newmarket Square is a failure. The Liberties Local Area Plan had in mind offices and a hotel and residential development for the square. That isn’t going to happen now, at least not in the immediate future,” said Mr O’Hara.
However, he added that the square did offer opportunities for smaller more considered development, such as the Sunday flea market which had already started, and potential for collaboration with the nearby National College of Art and Design.
The square is one of the brownfield sites which the European planners will be asked to consider this week.
Other prominent locations identified as needing intervention include the former CIÉ site on Upper Abbey Street, the Fishmarket at Mary’s Lane and an Office of Public Works site at Hammond Lane.
I wonder if the 100 buildings at risk mentioned last week are included in this list? Or is there some overlap at least? What do you reckon our planner cousins from Europe will think of the declining quality of Dublin city centre?