Re: Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!

Home Forums Ireland Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin! Re: Re: Thomas Street & James Street, Dublin!


Ok, we’ll come back to that little one beside Chadwick’s.

A quick update on that Bord pleanala decision on the Frawley’s application.

For anyone who hasn’t followed this saga, here’s a potted history:

In June 08, Danninger Ltd [a Liam Carroll company] applied to demolish nos. 32, 33, 34-35 + 36 Thomas Street, the old Frawley’s store and adjoining premises, and construct a new office block and replacement shops in their place.

The proposal causes a bit of a stir on archiseek and elsewhere, not least because many of us had thought that the numerous passages in the current Dublin City Development Plan which extol the virtues of conservation and re-use of older buildings provided a firewall against any further destruction of the city’s historic streetscapes on this scale.

The fact that the existing buildings were mostly sound and in good condition and that they formed a substantial part of the setting to St. Catherine’s Church, itself arguably the most accomplished exercise in designing an 18th century church into the Dublin streetscape, only added to the incredulity that greeted the proposal.

The first sign that this proposal wasn’t being treated as an actual piss-take arrived in July ’08 with the publication of an interdepartmental report from Kieran Rose, formerly a senior planner in this parish and now apparently the head of the City Council’s ‘Economic Development Unit’. The report wasn’t the usual one-liner we’ve come to expect in these situations, it was a mini version of the same official’s Sean Dunne/Ballsbridge apologia, a four page ringing endorsement of the scheme’s scorched earth approach. The Rose report managed to reference everyone from the OECD, to the NESC and the ESRI, but was chiefly memorable for only mentioning the word ‘heritage’ once and even then comically in the phrase ”The area has a heritage of problems, including it’s image . . . .”

You couldn’t make this stuff up.

Incredibly, this was but the beginning of an unfolding nightmare. Following a lame request for additional information that managed to mix up which houses were the suspected early 18th century structures, the submission of a second building assessment report, and a second change of case officer, in November ’08 Dublin City Council issued a decision to Grant Permission for the proposal with minimal changes and feeble conditions.

All the time that this was going on, pretty convincing evidence was being assembled that the existing streetscape contained more than just anonymous late 18th, 19th and 20th century structures, as claimed, but instead some very rare and valuable early and mid 18th century house types that otherwise have largely vanished from the building record of the city.

Lively discussion on this site followed culminating in some light-hearted death threats, if memory serves.

The upshot of the appeal to An Bord Pleanála is as follows;

Incredibly, the appointed ABP inspector disregarded all of this new building heritage information and backed up the City Council’s decision allowing the total demolition of the existing structures and brought his recommendation for Approval to the Bord.

To their eternal credit, the Bord were unconvinced by their own inspector’s report and took the very unusual step of requesting the developers submit a completely new plan incorporating the retention of all the existing structures on the Thomas Street frontage. To assess the new plan, the Bord also commissioned a new report by a new inspector.

Danninger submitted the new proposal in July ’09 making it clear that they were doing so reluctantly and that their preferred option was to continue with their original proposal.

Unlike the first inspector, the new inspector, [Ms. Jane Dennely] saw immediate architectural and heritage merit in the existing terrace of buildings and was particularly persuaded by the assessment of the individual structures provided in a third party submission by the Civic Trust.

The result of all this is that Bord Pleanála last week issued a decision to grant permission for the revised scheme requiring the retention of all of the existing streetscape buildings, with specific conditions to research and reconstruct the original roof profile and brickwork façade of Fade’s mansion/banking house at no. 36 Thomas Street. Other conditions require the developer to carry out a detailed, comprehensive, analysis of each structure and to be guided by that research in the programme of conservation works to be undertaken as part of the redevelopment.

A huge sigh of relief all round, and deep apologies for earlier getting irritated that the Bord were taking too long 😉

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