Dublin City Council plans to add the Pigeon House chimneys at Poolbeg to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS), in a move which could restrict the area's redevelopment as a new residential quarter.
The 680ft candy-striped twin chimney stacks at the ESB's Poolbeg generating station have been one of the city's most recognisable landmarks for more than 30 years, but have never enjoyed protection from demolition.
The council's southeast area committee has voted to add the chimneys to the RPS on the grounds that they are an essential part of the city's industrial heritage. The chimneys are now being assessed by the council's conservation office, which will report back to the councillors in September, who will then make a final decision on the proposal.
The move follows the decision last month by the ESB to close the Poolbeg power station by 2010. A spokesman for the ESB said no decision had been made on the future of the stacks and it was unlikely that any decision would be taken until the plant closed.
The company has also yet to decide whether it will sell the 90-acre site on which the stacks stand. The site is likely to become prime development land in the coming years with plans to move much of Dublin port's activities outside the city and proposals to turn the Poolbeg area into a high-density urban quarter.
However, if the chimneys are added to the RPS, any development would have to incorporate the two giant stacks, which, while considered a vital piece of Dublin's heritage by the councillors, could be seen as an eyesore by developers and homebuyers.
Labour councillor Dermot Lacey, who originally proposed the preservation of the chimneys, said it was essential they were preserved now, before any decisions on the future of the site were made.
"A lot of people are going to be living in Poolbeg, it is going to be a new community, but it's also important that we preserve the old and these chimneys are an important part of our industrial heritage."
© 2007 The Irish Times