Some of the first plans in the €500 million redevelopment of Dublin city's most prominent site, the 5.5-acre plot stretching from O'Connell Street to Moore Street, have been approved by Dublin City Council.
UK property group Hammerson last June lodged three applications for a mixed retail, office and residential scheme on the vast city block formerly known as the Carlton site, parts of which have lain vacant and derelict for more than 40 years.
The site, which stretches west from O’Connell Street to Moore Street, and north from Henry Street to Parnell Street, is being developed under six separate planning applications.
Two of the first three applications, which focus on Moore Street and Henry Street, and include residential, hotel, retail, restaurant and cafe and cultural uses, have now been approved by the council.
In relation to the third application towards the northern end of Moore Street at O’Rahilly Parade, the council has asked Hammerson to submit an amended daylight and sunlight analysis of the effect the development will have on neighbouring apartments.
However, the two approved applications are the more substantial, with one involving the land surrounding the 1916 Rising National Monument buildings at 14-17 Moore Street. These State-owned buildings are due to be developed separately as a Rising Commemorative Centre, a project expected to cost at least €16.25 million.
The application surrounding this site was controversial as it proposed a large archway beside the national monument which broke up the Moore Street terrace. Under conditions attached to the grant of permission the archway must be reduced in scale and its detailing more closely aligned to 17 Moore Street.
The second approved application, which deals with buildings on Henry Street and the southern end of Moore Street, involved the construction of a nine-storey hotel, and the demolition of two buildings: 38 Henry Street which will be replaced with a passageway and 41 Henry Street, at the corner of Moore Street, would be replaced with a new building.
The Department of Housing had made a submission to the council opposing the demolition of number 38 Henry Street, saying it was “unnecessary”. However the council has approved its removal.
While the council has approved Hammerson's plans they will be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.
James Connolly Heron, great-grandson of 1916 leader James Connolly said the council's decision was "another significant blow to the unique heritage of Dublin which is increasingly under attack by developers" and " will not stand unchallenged".
Moore Street was in grave danger of being “lost forever in the commercial interest of Hammerson”, he said.
“The Moore Street Preservation Trust and the Relatives of the 1916 Leaders repeat our call on the Minister for Housing, Local Government and Heritage Darragh O’Brien as guardian of our history and heritage to act urgently and undertake to protect and preserve all 1916 buildings and the surrounding battlefield site through the issuing of Preservation Orders,” he said.
“There is an alternative plan available for the positive development of Moore Street. It was produced by the Moore Street Preservation Trust and has been widely welcomed.”
Green Party councillor Donna Cooney, who chairs the Lord Mayor's Forum on Moore Street, said she would also be appealing the decisions.
“While some of the issues have been addressed in the conditions, they are cosmetic in comparison to the extensive demolition,” she said. “The large archway, while reduced, is still out of keeping with the terrace and I am concerned about the protection of the rest of the terrace.”
Stephen Troy, chairperson of the Dublin 1 Business Alliance and owner of Troys' Butchers on Moore Street, said the council had given Hammerson permission to "destroy" Moore Street.
“I believe this will go down as the biggest planning mistake in Irish history to date, as let’s not forget that this will lead to the existing 5.5-acre city centre retail core becoming a 15-year building site,” he said
Hammerson, in a statement on Friday, said it welcomed the council’s decisions and was reviewing their detail.
“This takes us another step closer to delivering what will be a landmark development for the city of Dublin,” it said. “We look forward to submitting a number of further applications for the remainder of the site in the coming months while we continue to work with all stakeholders.”
The site was for years known as the Carlton site as originally it just encompassed the old Carlton cinema, the plot beside it that had been vacant since 1979, and some backlands between O’Connell Street and Moore Street.
Hammerson three years ago decided to scrap the existing 2010 planning permission for a €1.25 billion enclosed shopping complex on the site which runs west from O’Connell Street to Moore Street, and north of Henry Street to Parnell Street.
Instead it plans a more open scheme which will restore the historic street pattern, and will include a new east-west pedestrian street between O’Connell Street and Moore Street, two new civic squares, shops, offices, apartments, hotels and an underground station for the new Metrolink rail line.
As part of the next three applications the facade of the old cinema will be restored, though the cinema itself will not be retained in situ. Three protected structures, 42 O’Connell Street – the last remaining Georgian house on the street, O’Connell Hall at the back of No 42, and Conway’s pub, will also be restored.