Re: Re: South Leinster Street

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While I agree the building looks good, Stephen, alas I cannot agree that these works have been an improvement. Indeed I was just about to post (okay rant) about this very development upon seeing it underway a couple of weeks ago. It is absolutely extraordinary, and yet another indictment of how many Protected Structures are treated in this city, that this building of social, cultural and architectural merit has been permitted to be so drastically altered without so much of an eyebrow raised by planners. Its entire facade has been painted day glo ‘Ash White’, courtesy of the Dulux ‘Heritage Range’ to woo the powers that be. This is how it looked for the previous century.

The former Greene’s bookshop premises was effectively the last building of its type in the entire city centre that retained its turn of the 20th century appearance, with a brooding traditional unpainted rendered facade, canopied shopfront and bottle green joinery. It could have been lifted straight out of the Michael Collins film, and these elements contributed to the very essence of its character.

For the one of the more important of these characteriistics to be stripped away is bad enough, but for this not to be even acknowledged by the case planner is nothing short of shocking. Indeed on a point of order alone this application should have been declared invalid and thrown out, as the planning notice stipulated ‘repainting of facade’ for a facade that was never painted in its one hundred year history. Alas given the culture we have here, the dismal prospect also arises that the planner possibly never even visited the site, did not even know the well-known building in question, and took at face value the plans put before them.

Architectural Protection Guidelines for Local Authorites expressly stipulate in reference to Protected Structures: “Proposals to paint facades not previously painted should be carefully scrutinised. Permission should not normally be given for previously unpainted facades to be painted over (except for the addition of shelter-coating). The use of cement-based or other waterproof and hard gloss paints should not be permitted on surfaces covered with traditional render, as they will cause damage to the historic fabric.”

Not only was this entire unpainted facade painted over – with the absence of so much as a single mention of this in the planner’s report not exactly suggesting careful scrutiny – but also modern gloss paints were used on the quoins and parapet, and were stated as such in the plans. How in the name of all that is sane that a planner could submit “the proposed development would not be injurious to the character of the protected structure” is nothing short of baffling. More so still in the context of not even making any assessment of the current appearance of the building, nor the possible positive or negative impacts of the proposal on it.

I have to say I am fuming over this decision. And I knew it would happen. Hence the very reason I went out and took the above picture in January, before this unique expression of the vernacular architecture of sullen early 20th century Dublin vanished forever. Sure it was glum, but it was also the last one. And for such a Dublin institution to be treated with such disregard for protection guidelines let alone even basic proceedure makes it all the more bitter.

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