Dublin 8: Plans submitted for the redevelopment of the old Kilmainham Mills take unique note of the need to conserve both the listed buildings on the site and its historical value.
Drawn up in conjunction with Dublin City Council's Kilmainham Mill Conservation Plan 2002, the application, on behalf of Charona Ltd, is for 48 one, two and three-bedroom apartments in a mixture of new and refurbished buildings.
The proposal aims to preserve the special qualities of the site "while improving its relationship to the Cammock River and re-establishing its significance to the old Mill race".
On the banks of the Cammock, and with a history stretching at least as far back as the 16th century, the old Kilmainham Mills site has some fine mid-19th century industrial architecture, including a brick chimney stack.
Structures elsewhere on the site are described by Damien Shine, the Mill's present owner and part of the Charona group, as ranging from "the worthwhile to the downright visibly repulsive".
Evidence of milling activity on the site dates from the 15th century, with anecdotal evidence of earlier use.
Damien Shine , following a line of textile processors going back to the early 1900s, ran his own business in the Mills until 2000. He says that the conservation plan, originally put together in the hope that Dublin City Council or a combination of public authorities would acquire the site and develop it themselves, looked at all aspects of the Mill in exhaustive detail - "everything from birds to flowers to trees and machinery".
Prepared by industrial archaeologist Dermot Nolan in association with Alastair Coey Architects and Helen Hossack for the Council, and assisted by Dúchas and the Heritage Council, the conservation plan listed the structures in order of importance, recommended that the archaeology of the site be disturbed as little as possible and laid particular emphasis on the historical development of the Mill Race when it was internal to the Mill building.
The redevelopment plan put together by architects N B K highlights the principal retained structures, converting them into two and three-bedroom units, and reconstructs the Mill Race as central to the landscaping design and as a display area for items of machinery from the Mill.
Proposed new buildings for the river's edge will not have a ground floor but, in tree house archictectural style, will be stilted, timber clad and set into the trees so as to blend with surroundings. It is proposed that a river walk be extended to run the length of the site.
Damien Shine, who is enthusiastic about the conservation plan and the guidance it offered, is hopeful that such plans will become the norm for future protected structure development.
He points out, however, one recommendation of the conservation plan that has been sacrificed: the dwelling house, which was listed as being of local interest and in which he and his family still live "did not, unfortunately work with the plans.It's a nice old house but it's coming to the end of its tether".
The Shine family are hopeful that there will be a place for them to live in the new development.