An Bord Pleanala – strange decision

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    • #710277
      Devin
      Participant

      Now it doesn’t need to be stated up here that An Bord Pleanala is to Irish local authority planning what Morgan Tsvangirai is to Robert Mugabe; a bastion of hope, fairness and democracy in a world of relentless development-plan breaching, inconsistency and parochial influence. The Bord is however only human and capable of the occasional strange decision. Read on:

      No. 48 Fleet Street is an (unlisted) 4-storey Georgian house. Many will be familiar with it as the Irish office of Amnesty, with a cafe and shop on the ground floor. The building is an interesting survival here since this end of Fleet Street was largely redeveloped in the 20th century is now rather bland and characterless.

      Despite various alterations over the years – removal of its pitched roof, refacing/rebuilding of the top floor, insertion of various window openings in the side elevation – the building retains its essential character and legibility as a mid-18th century Georgian house. The full recovery of its mid-18th century character would have been an exciting and rewarding conservation project (funded by new development to the rear).

      In September 2006, a planning application for refurbishment of the house and new development to the rear came in. As is evident above, the proposal is a mess, a confusing melange of old and new involving serious irreversible alterations and additions to the Georgian house and ignoring the basic conservation principle of maintaining a clear distinction between old and new.

      In fact the conservation principles of the development seem quite upside down:
      Alterations and additions which all but obliterate the identity of the important streetfront Georgian house, but retention of a completely pedestrian bit of 2-storey Victorian facade at the back which has no context either in itself or within the new development.

      No great fault of the architect, of course; probably just a simple case of him/her not having worked with an historic building before and not knowing its value or how to approach it. The real problem was that the building was not listed and so was not subject to the requirement for an architect with conservation expertise and use of best practice principles in considering alterations and additions. Needless to say, it should have been a protected structure, but that’s the inconsistency of the Dublin city Record of Protected Structures for you.

      Following an additional information request, the scheme was granted permission by Dublin City Council and was then appealed by An Taisce. The arguments of the appeal were fairly straightforward:

      – inappropriate alterations to an unlisted Georgian house
      – lack of clarity between existing and new build
      – failure to reinforce the civic design character of the area as provided for in the site zoning

      The Board inspector wrote a damning report against the scheme, going perhaps even further than An Taisce in denouncing it. Eg:

      “The proposed development envelopes the existing structure to the extent that an understanding of the building in its own right is lost and the changes made are irreparable. In accepting such changes, one is accepting the loss of the integrity of No. 48 as exists. In my opinion, the proposal shows no serious attempt to safeguard the architectural merits of the existing structure or to allow the building to be read and understood in its own right. The proposal is a significant intrusion on the form and architectural character of this Georgian building.”

      Read the whole thing here (open ‘Inspector’s report’): http://www.pleanala.ie/casenum/222964.htm

      Despite all this it was granted permission by the Board with no important changes, and is currently under construction …. a strange decision.

    • #805048
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Amnesty International? Human Rights?

      This is abuse of an old building’s rights!

    • #805049
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      If Temple Bar was an ACA then perhaps development like this could be controlled better. Extensions in historic areas should not be allowed to dominate like this, why do DCC have such contempt for the historic environment that they permit this in the first place?. This is very poor, shame on all involved.

    • #805050
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @blaise wrote:

      If Temple Bar was an ACA then perhaps development like this could be controlled better. Extensions in historic areas should not be allowed to dominate like this, why do DCC have such contempt for the historic environment that they permit this in the first place?. This is very poor, shame on all involved.

      Too true; shame on all involved – and that includes Mick Wallace who is the contractor on the scheme here, and also I note elsewhere, Wallace is also the contractor for the JC Decaux scheme…”Ah sure, I was only following orders” :rolleyes:

    • #805051
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      No doubt one of the hand wringing ‘you can’t say no to Amnesty – the Irish Times will call us right-wing’ type of decisions

    • #805052
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Rory W wrote:

      No doubt one of the hand wringing ‘you can’t say no to Amnesty – the Irish Times will call us right-wing’ type of decisions

      With Madam in charge? No fear of that methinks…

    • #805053
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Mick Wallace is generally speaking a good guy.

    • #805054
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      I did say “shame on all involved” but in fairness I cannot say that Mick Wallace is to blame. Its up to Dublin City Council to take Conservation and Urban Design a lot more seriously than they do at present. An equivalent of “Design for London” would be great for Dublin as it could give the Council some much needed design advice.

    • #805055
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      @Devin wrote:

      The Board inspector wrote a damning report against the scheme, going perhaps even further than An Taisce in denouncing it.

      Despite all this it was granted permission by the Board with no important changes, and is currently under construction …. a strange decision.

      Has the membership of the Bórd changed recently?

      I have a feeling it has, with perhaps some of the new intake not being up to the level of the guys they replaced. This could explain the wobble in standards recently. It’s unlikely there was a policy decision to screw things up, but then again . . .

    • #805056
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      Most recent Board members

      Mary Bryan was appointed to the Board for the period 4th April 2005 until 3rd April 2010. Before her appointment, she was Chief Executive of the Irish Georgian Society, with responsibility for planning, education and conservation. She is a qualified architect (B.Arch) and holds a Masters degree in Urban and Building Conservation. She is a member of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

      Mary MacMahon was appointed to the Board for the period 27th November, 2006 until 26th November, 2011. She holds a Masters Degree in Town and Country Planning from Queen’s University, Belfast. She worked as a planning consultant in the private sector and was a member of the Aquaculture Licences Appeals Board.

      Conall Boland was appointed to the Board for the period 1st January , 2007 until 31st December, 2011. He is a graduate in Civil Engineering from Trinity College, Dublin and holds a DEA in Civil Engineering from the ENS Cachan, France. He also holds a Masters Degree in Spatial Planning from the Dublin Institute of Technology. Prior to his appointment to the Board he was Technical Director with RPS Consulting Engineers. He is a chartered member of the Institution of Engineers of Ireland.

      Tom O’Connor was appointed to the Board for the period 7th December, 2007 until 31st August, 2008. Before his appointment, he was Planning Officer for An Bord Pleanála. He is a qualified architect holding a Bachelor of Architecture (B. Arch) degree and a Diploma in Town Planning (Dip. T.P.)

    • #805057
      Anonymous
      Inactive

      OK, no obvious cowboys here, but if I had to guess which one wears the check shirt and dark hat I’d put my money on that Trinity boy Engineer.

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