Threat to listed homes in Monkstown


The owners and occupiers of more than 350 listed buildings in south Co Dublin have claimed that one of the State's greatest concentrations of Regency and Victorian architecture is under threat from unsympathetic development proposals.

The Monkstown, Seapoint and Salthill Residents Association says a number of planning applications for large office and apartment blocks in the area will completely overshadow the architecture of previous eras, while plans for the new Dun Laoghaire Harbour relief road will channel traffic through the area.

The association is also concerned that architectural features are being removed from a number of houses, while some others are being allowed to fall into a serious state of dereliction.

According to Mr Stephen Devaney, chairman of the association, a planning application for a five-storey apartment block at De Vesci Lodge in Dun Laoghaire is typical of the kind of development they feel would destroy the character of the area.

The application, in the name of Mr Diarmuid McNulty, involves the demolition of De Vesci Lodge, a bungalow dating from the mid-1900s. It is currently under consideration by Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council. A number of other apartment schemes, notably the Salthill apartments and the Clearwater Cove schemes, are in the immediate area.

"De Vesci Terrace is a fine example of an early Victorian, neo-classical Regency design which was built between 1840 and 1843, yet the proposed new development appears to be within a few feet of the mews houses at the rear of the terrace," said Mr Devaney.

The application for outline planning permission gives only an indication of the scale of the proposed apartment block, but according to Mr Devaney it would dwarf the period buildings.

However, the architect for the scheme, Mr Colm Cosgrove, maintained that the new development would improve the appearance of Cumberland Street and De Vesci Terrace. "The terrace is at right angles to Cumberland Street and while the terrace is particularly fine the bungalow is not and is in fact out of place. It is a prominent site and the proposed development would - although at this stage the application is only in outline form - be a sympathetic `end' to the terrace."

By "sympathetic", Mr Cosgrove added, he did not mean pastiche. It would also, he argued, provide better land use by providing substantially more accommodation than the bungalow could.

The residents' association also maintains Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council is failing to protect a double-fronted Regency house at Clifton Terrace that was badly damaged by fire last December.

Local authorities are empowered to serve notice on the owners or occupiers of structures under threat to carry out their preservation and penalties of up to £1 million can be imposed.

Another worrying prospect for the conservationists is Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council's decision to grant planning permission for an 11,000 sq ft office block at Monkstown Crescent, the centre of the Crescent Conservation Area. "This is a case in which all the considerations of the heritage of Monkstown were belittled and one which we believe may be claimed as a very dangerous precedent," insisted Mr Devaney.

The association is also concerned that plans for a West Pier relief road, provision for which is made in the current Development Plan prepared by the local authority, would encourage an unacceptable level of traffic. The relief road is proposed for the route from Monkstown Crescent, between both arms of Longford Terrace, around the Salthill apartments and across reclaimed land from the sea where watersports are enjoyed, passing to the rear of the pumping station and connecting with the inner harbour roads through a breach of the West Pier.

In order to bring this road over the railway line, it would need to be raised to a considerable height, which would spoil the marine views available from the Longford and Clifton terraces, Mr Devaney maintained.