TheLiberty is a local paper for Dublin's south inner city

February 2001

An Taisce objects to Georges St 'monolith'

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By Aoife Stokes
An Taisce, the national organisation responsible for the protection of Irish heritage, has filed an objection against planning permission currently being sought for the development of existing properties on South Great George's St.

The planning application has been made by Chartered Property Holdings and includes a range of building developments including a planned pedestrian route through Dublin Castle in conjunction with works to be carried out by the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The objections raised by An Taisce relate solely to the developments of neighbouring buildings, Castle House and Wicklow House, 78/83 and 84/89 South Great George's Street respectively.

The application seeks to add two stories on to what An Taisce have described in a letter to Dublin Corporation's Planning Department as "an already monolithic building". However the application with plans, by architects John O'Keefe and Associates, cite historical reasons for the need to alter these premises explaining that these buildings were designed by an English firm in Birmingham in the early to mid 1970's.

Informer's Lane: Part of the proposed development

"It is possible that the buildings were designed for a completely different site (probably in England) and were transposed to Ireland and fitted in to George's Street Great South.

"The building's design make no concession to its actual location on a curved sloping Victorian Street."

Whilst An Taisce recognise that the 1970's demolition and subsequent developments to South Great George's St were "a lesson learned," they do add that the pre-1970's tract of buildings "generated a regularity and evenness which cannot be recaptured".
Their main contention with the development of these buildings is the proposed height. "To allow such a height increase obstruct what possibly is the city's most important vista, from Trinity College along Dame and Lord Edward Street would be to greatly devalue it. In addition, part of the precinct of the Castle would be cast in a permanent shadow," claims An Taisce.

Many of the development proposals were discussed with the OPW in the pre-application stage. This resulted in the OPW setting about developing proposals of their own for the new pedestrian route, which will include the formation of a new circular courtyard.

The new route, part of which is a proposed two-storey arcade, would be fitted with ramps and steps to facilitate access to its different levels.