Protected status expected for three-storey Player Wills building

Former Dublin factory on South Circular Road part of a 19-storey redevelopment plan

The city council’s conservation section described the building as a ‘remarkable example of a purpose-built early 20th century factory building’. File photograph: The Irish Times

The city council’s conservation section described the building as a ‘remarkable example of a purpose-built early 20th century factory building’. File photograph: The Irish Times

 

The former Player Wills factory in Dublin 8 which is at the centre of a big redevelopment plan that includes a 19-storey tower is set to be made a protected building today.

Dublin city councillors are expected to approve the recommendation of the council’s head of planning, Richard Shakespeare, to list the building on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS). This is planned despite complaints from its owners, US property group Hines, that the council’s own plans for the site had not proposed its protection.

Hines was last April granted permission for 732 apartments on the site, retaining and incorporating the factory building.

The council assessed the building for addition to the list following the request of former minister for housing Eoghan Murphy in 2017 and a 2018 motion from then Labour cllr Rebecca Moynihan, now a Senator. The three-storey factory was built between 1924 and 1927, but was significantly extended in 1935, with the main building facing the South Circular Road constructed at this date.

The council’s conservation section described the building as a “remarkable example of a purpose-built early 20th century factory building”. The “high-quality architectural design and detailing are apparent throughout”, it said.

“A modernist influence on the building’s design can be seen in the flat roof and extensive glazing to all elevations while the render consoles and frieze to the 1920s storeys indicate an Art Deco influence on elements of the design.”

The factory had an “imposing presence on South Circular Road”, creating a “striking contrast to the predominantly domestic architecture of the street” but the use of brick “allows harmonisation with the prevailing architectural composition of its surroundings”, it said.

Developer’s reaction

A submission on behalf of Hines said the council’s 2017 framework plan for the land, which was approved the year before the group bought it, “does not provide an objective for the retention of the former factory building” .

The submission also took issue with a reference to the building’s brickwork in the council’s assessment of the “artistic special interest” of the building. “The brickwork is not an artistic element. It is a building element and should be considered as a component of its architecture – not as art,” it said.

The council said the framework plan had been superseded by the permission granted to Hines for the redevelopment of the lands which includes “the restoration and repurposing of the former factory building proposed for addition to the RPS”.

Another 50 submissions were made on the proposal to add the building to the RPS. Most were in favour , but 10 were opposed, with some calling it “ugly” and a “hideous blight” which was of “no historical value to the city”.

Several raised the concern the listing was an attempt to frustrate the development of the site. However, the council said the addition of building to the RPS “will not hinder the carrying out of this development”.