Group mounts 90-day rescue for Thomas Street

One-third of street derelict, vacant or demolished

Businesses and organisations including the Guinness Storehouse, the National College of Art and Design and the Digital Hub Development Agency have come together to produce a 90-day plan aimed at improving the appearance and the perception of Thomas Street in Dublin  to encourage shoppers and tourists to use the street.

Businesses and organisations including the Guinness Storehouse, the National College of Art and Design and the Digital Hub Development Agency have come together to produce a 90-day plan aimed at improving the appearance and the perception of Thomas Street in Dublin to encourage shoppers and tourists to use the street.

 

One of Dublin most historic streets is in danger of sliding into irrevocable decline, due to “State-sponsored dereliction”, a city business organisation has said.

More than one-third of the buildings on Thomas Street in the southwest inner city are derelict, vacant or have been demolished, and this figure will grow if urgent action is not taken, the Thomas Street Business Association has said.

Businesses and organisations including the Guinness Storehouse, the National College of Art and Design and the Digital Hub Development Agency have come together to produce a 90-day plan to “save” the street. The plan aims to improve both the appearance and the perception of the street over a three-month period, to encourage shoppers and tourists to use the street and to show how it can again be an attractive and viable destination for enterprise.


Damaged image
“Although almost 1,000 people per day walk the street to visit the Guinness Storehouse, few find it a welcoming place. Vagrancy, dirt, litter, vacancy, dereliction, poorly maintained footpaths, lanes and buildings suggest the area is unsafe, a pocket of crime – a place to hurry through and not dwell,” association spokesman Killian O’Higgins said.

“In fact An Garda Síochána report no significant difference in issues affecting visitors to Thomas Street compared to other areas in the city. But perception is reality,” he said.

Over the course of the 90 days, local businesses will be improving their appearance by repainting shopfronts, and removing redundant signs, wiring and external shutters.

The NCAD will host a series of events including a Visual Artists Ireland conference, and graduates and students will be exhibiting work in shops along the street.

A “business and visitor hub” will be opened to market and promote the street. There will be a number of cultural and entertainment events, including the Liberties Festival, and Dublin City Council will undertake “public realm” improvements to clean and fix paths and roads.


Nama buildings
Pressure will also be brought to bear on the National Asset Management Agency to clean up buildings within its control and make them available for temporary uses.

“State-sponsored dereliction is responsible for so many of the problems of the street. The State entered into agreement with developers, and large sites were amalgamated but then never developed.

“Now we also have increasing numbers of buildings in the control of Nama that are also being left vacant and are falling into dereliction. This dereliction of duty is resulting in the dereliction of the street,” Mr O’Higgins said.

The association’s plan follows a report by the Dublin Civic Trust for the city council one year ago which found that “site assembly”, where groups of buildings were bought up for large-scale development, was spreading dilapidation throughout the street as intact buildings next to unsightly wasteground became abandoned.


Fading heritage
The report also warned that rare early 18th-century buildings, some hidden behind later Georgian facades, were in danger of being lost entirely. The 90-day campaign gets under way this evening with a “townhall-style” meeting open to the public at 6.30pm in the NCAD.