Capel Street to be revamped under city council initiative


NEON SIGNS, visible sex-shop paraphernalia and gaudy shopfront displays are to be banned from Dublin's Capel Street under a new city council initiative to revamp the area.

The council intends to clean up to street by giving it special conservation status to protect the heritage, architecture and character of the area.

The Architectural Conservation Area (ACA) designation means that there will be much tighter planning controls in relation to properties on Capel Street.

Owners will not be allowed to make any material changes to their buildings without seeking permission and will also have to obtain permission for advertising signs both projecting and flat against the buildings.

The council will seek the reinstatement of architectural features; illuminated signs or scrolling illuminated signs will not be permitted except in exceptional circumstance; "inappropriate or garish colours" will not be allowed; there can be no amplified announcements from shops; and goods or advertising structures will not be allowed on the footpath.

The council will also refuse to allow satellite dishes on the front of buildings and alarm boxes, wiring and TV aerials will have to be discretely located to comply with the designation.

About 30 per cent of the buildings on Capel Street are already on the Record of Protected Structures. The ACA designation will give the rest of the street similar status.

While the designation does not allow the council to remove sex shops and other undesirable establishments from the street, garish or provocative frontages will not be permitted.

Capel Street merits ACA designation because of its historical and architectural significance and because of the damage and dereliction it suffered in the 20th century, the council said.

The street was laid out in the 17th century by Sir Humphrey Jervis. In 1676 Essex Bridge was built across the Liffey and Capel Street became the primary thoroughfare between the north and south of the city until O'Connell bridge was built in 1794. It was one of the most fashionable addresses in Dublin in the late 17th and throughout the 18th century.

While its appearance declined significantly in the last century plastic fascia boards hide "impressive original shop fronts", the council said. Most of the buildings date from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

"It is one of the most intact commercial streets in Dublin. Most building plots remain unaltered from the middle of the nineteenth century."

Local labour councillor Emer Costello said she hoped Capel Street would be returned to its former glory and attract high-end retailers.

The council's plans will be available for public consultation in the civic offices in Wood Quay from October 29th to November 25th.