Dublin 'midtown' plans include 22-storey tower

Wed, Feb 8, 2012, 00:00

PLANS FOR the regeneration of Dublin’s southeast inner city, which allow for the construction of an 88m, 22-storey tower opposite the Custom House, have been prepared by Dublin City Council.

George’s Quay Local Area Plan, the draft of which will be available for public consultation next week, envisages the creation of a new “midtown” for the city south of the Liffey to Pearse Street and from Hawkins Street to Lombard Street.

Three key sites have been identified as having the potential for significant redevelopment: the block bounded by Hawkins Street, Poolbeg Street, Tara Street and Townsend Street; Tara Street station and its surrounds; and the City Quay area from Moss Street to South Street. Any new building or redevelopment of a brownfield site in the area for the next six to 10 years will be governed by the plan.

The plan would involve the demolition of mid-20th-century buildings in the area, including the Department of Health headquarters at Hawkins House, and the construction of mid- and high-rise buildings, and could, the council said, create up to 4,000 new jobs.

The council has long sought to establish a development template for the area, which despite being close to the central retail and business district of the city has a large percentage of vacant and underutilised sites and is characterised by poor-quality development and a need for economic, physical and social renewal.

Previous plans for the district reached an advanced stage of development in 2008 but were scrapped by city councillors because they included provision for a 22-storey building at Tara Street station, opposite the Custom House.

The councillors voted to defer making any development strategy for the area until after the new city development plan was adopted.

The development plan introduced in December 2010 designates George’s Quay as one of only four sites in the city where high-rise buildings of more than 50m are permissible.

The local area plan devised by the council now sets a specific maximum height of up to 88m, or 22 storeys, at the Tara Street site, although the council stresses this height is a maximum and any application for a building of this height would be assessed on merit.

A second mid-rise development of up to 14 storeys would be permitted at the Tara Street site; two developments of 12 storeys each could be located on the Hawkins House site, while the City Quay site could accommodate developments of up to 12 and up to 10 storeys.

The rest of the development would permit buidlings of seven storeys, with the top floor set back, at the quay side; up eight storeys between Hawkins Street to Prince’s Street South and Tara Street; and below eight storeys in the rest of the area.

Although the tallest building would be at Tara Street, some of the most dramatic redevelopment would be on the Hawkins Street block, where almost all buildings would be demolished and a diagonal pedestrian street would run from College Green, through the site of the existing Screen cinema and Hawkins House, to Tara Street station. Restaurants, cafes and shops would line the new street, with “cultural use”, probably a relocated cinema, retained on site.

The redevelopment of the railway station would be the main focus of the Tara Street site, serving as a gateway between the city and docklands and as a landmark for the new midtown area. Iarnród Éireann was two years ago granted permission for a building of just under 50m on the site but could reapply for permission for a higher building if this plan is approved.

Office space sold in the highrise building would offset the cost of the station redevelopment.

City Quay would be more residential, with at least 30 per cent devoted to housing. The primary school and church would be kept and cafes, restaurants and small-scale retail would be encouraged.