Protected structure status recommended for Player Wills building

Former Dublin factory part of a 19-storey redevelopment plan

The former Player Wills factory site on South Circular Road in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

The former Player Wills factory site on South Circular Road in Dublin. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

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The former Player Wills factory in Dublin 8, which is at the centre of a major redevelopment plan that includes a 19-storey tower, has been recommended for addition to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).

Dublin City Council’s conservation department said the old cigarette factory on the South Circular Road merited protection as a “remarkable” and “high quality” example of its type.

The council has assessed the building for addition to the RPS following the request of former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy in 2017 and a 2018 motion from then Labour councillor Rebecca Moynihan, now a Senator.

US property group Hines, which owns the building and surrounding site, has submitted plans to An Bord Pleanála for 732 apartments on the land, incorporating the factory building. One third of the apartments would be co-living units.

The three-storey factory was originally built between 1924 and 1927, but was significantly extended in 1935, with the main building facing the South Circular Road constructed at this date.

The council will now start the legal process of adding the building to the RPS which involves a public consultation process, after which a decision will be made whether or not to add it to the list.

It is unlikely the building will be listed by the time An Bord Pleanála has issued its ruling on the Hines application in April. However, the board may consider if the scheme would materially affect the character of the building as a proposed protected structure.

Hines plans the restoration of the 1935 building as part of the scheme. However, the impact the surrounding proposed buildings would have on the factory if it was a protected structure could be assessed by the board.

Objections

Hundreds of objections to the scheme have been lodged with the board by local residents. The objections largely focus on the height of the new buildings and the lack of homes for families.

Almost 80 per cent of the apartments will be studios, one-bed apartments or co-living rooms. None of the apartments will be available for sale, with 492 build-to-rent apartments planned, in addition to 240 co-living units.

Hines said it had undertaken “extensive engagement with local residents” over 18 months prior to lodging its application.

The council’s conservation section described the building as a “remarkable example of a purpose-built early 20th century factory building”. Its “high-quality architectural design and detailing are apparent throughout”, it said.

“The balanced form of the street-fronting elevation is highlighted by the subtle use of projecting end bays and a central breakfront with the use of pilasters to emphasise the building’s bays to both front and side elevations adding a further sense of symmetry,” it said.

Flat roof

“A modernist influence on the building’s design can be seen in the flat roof and extensive glazing to all elevations while the render consoles and frieze to the 1920s storeys indicate an Art Deco influence on elements of the design.”

The factory had an “imposing presence on South Circular Road” creating a “striking contrast to the predominantly domestic architecture of the street”. However, the use of brick “allows harmonisation with the prevailing architectural composition of its surroundings”, the conservation department said.

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