Re: Re: The Western Quays

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To play devils advocate here, I would probably support something fairly close to a policy of blanket retention of historic stock. Demolition is terminal, so there is no symmetry in the choices available; If it turns out to be a mistake to retain the building, you can order in the JCBs later but if it turns out to be a mistake, then there’s practically nothing you can do. Because of this lack of symmetry, the case for demolition must be “above and beyond doubt”. There is a similar lack of symmetry in criminal law for example; if you hang someone (or put them in jail for twenty years), then you cannot reverse what you’ve done to them while you can always try them again if new evidence appears. The legal system solves the problem by insisting that the burden of proof lies with the side advocating the “non-reversable” outcome. A similar burden should apply when people are applying to destroy historic building stock. It should have to be proven “beyound a doubt” that the retention of the building would retard the development and improvement of the city. People make mistakes all the time – the system should attempt to ensure that terminal mistakes are more difficult to make than non-terminal ones.

In the case of this building, I don’t see a compelling case for demolishing it. This building isn’t an impediment to the development or improvement of the city – it’s just an old building which has been willfully neglected. What exactly is the social/economic case for getting rid of it? All I’m hearing from the knock-it-down side are general claims that “old buildings” shouldn’t be kept just for the sake of it.

Visiting beautiful towns and cities around Europe in countries such as France, Spain, Italy and Germany for example, makes it obvious to me that the retention of historic stock is almost NEVER damaging to cities or towns – the opposite is the case. I think in Ireland familiarity has bred contempt for Georgian architecture while we are happy to ooh and ahh over historic buildings in France or Spain.

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