Dublin City Councillors to vote on change to development plan to suit ESB

ESB wants to build new headquarters on Fitzwilliam Street

The ESB wants to demolish the Dublin offices designed by Sam Stephenson and Arthur Gibney in the 1960s and replace them with new offices doubling the capacity of the existing building. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The ESB wants to demolish the Dublin offices designed by Sam Stephenson and Arthur Gibney in the 1960s and replace them with new offices doubling the capacity of the existing building. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Mon, Mar 3, 2014, 01:00


Dublin city councillors will vote tonight on whether to change the city development plan to facilitate the ESB ’s redevelopment of its Fitzwilliam Street headquarters.

The company wants to demolish the offices designed by Sam Stephenson and Arthur Gibney in the 1960s and replace them with new offices doubling the capacity of the existing building.

However, the scheme does not comply with the development plan policy that the Georgian facades of the 16 buildings demolished to make way for the headquarters almost 50 years ago be reinstated.

Four years ago the company announced its intention to rebuild its headquarters. Subsequently a new city development plan was passed in which councillors inserted a specific provision to ensure the ESB would have to include restoration of the 16 facades in any new development on the site.

In order to be able to submit a planning application for its new scheme, designed by Grafton Architects and OMP, which does not involve facade reinstatement, the ESB must first secure a “variation” by the councillors of the development plan so that it can be considered by the planners.

The variation requires that any redevelopment “respects and enhances the character and composition of the Georgian streetscape” in terms of the rhythm of windows and doors, the proportion and scale of the ground floor storey to the upper storeys, parapet height etc, and removes the reference to “reinstatement of the Georgian façade”.

Many councillors had been opposed to the change. However, it now looks likely they will vote in favour tonight after securing promises from the ESB in relation to the restoration of other Georgian buildings in the south inner city.

Labour councillor Mary Freehill said the company had agreed to convert part of its offices on Mount Street Lower into apartments, and to convert an original Georgian house into apartments.

“This, I hope, will show the way for developers to convert these lovely old houses into modern apartments, and bring city living back to the old Georgian city core,” she said.

If the variation is passed by the councillors today, the ESB could lodge a planning application for the proposed redevelopment.