Monday, 6 October 2008

Confine tall buildings to 15 Dublin areas, review says

DUBLIN CITY Council planners have identified 15 areas as appropriate for high buildings, including the developing suburban areas around the Naas Road, Park West and Cherry Orchard.

Buildings of more than 16 storeys could be allowed in areas including George's Quay, Grand Canal Basin, Dublin Port and near Connolly and Heuston stations.

Maximising the City's Potential , a draft height strategy for Dublin published in January, received a broadly negative reaction at public consultation sessions in June.

A review of the document has now been presented to the city council's Planning Strategic Policy Committee.

It currently has the status of a discussion document.

Chairman of the committee, Cllr Daithí Doolan, said: "I welcome the report which restricts high rise to certain areas of Dublin. High buildings over eight storeys will only be acceptable within these areas."

Mr Doolan said it was significant that a clause in the original report allowing for high-rise development in "exceptional circumstances" had been reviewed.

The report says Dublin's new suburbs could benefit from a "very specific and limited use of height to create a focal point".

The developing areas named are Naas Road, Park West and Cherry Orchard.

In the historic inner city, high buildings will be acceptable "only at the main transport stations on the edge of the historical area, such as Heuston, Tara and Connolly".

Height is also proposed at a limited number of locations along the "natural ridge of the inner-city bowl to reflect the digital knowledge economy at Digital Hub and also the new knowledge centre at the DIT Campus at Grangegorman, as well as the National Children's Hospital at Phibsborough."

The Heuston area "also merits height", although buildings here "should avoid blocking views of the city skyline on approach to the city from the Phoenix Park".

The document notes that the docklands has fewer historical constraints and "has by far the greatest capacity for change and the greatest potential to accommodate height".

The report found a "great level of confusion in the public debate on density and height".

The document also notes the policy for height in the current city development plan is largely based on the urban planner's DEGW 2000 report, which it describes as having been "largely silent on the suburbs". The DEGW report pre-dated the proposals of Transport 21, and the criteria set out for the assessment of high buildings "appears to have resulted in a lack of clarity for both developers and the public".

Among the issues raised in the public consultation process on the draft document was a lack of confidence that iconic tall buildings of quality could be delivered.

Hawkins House - the Poolbeg Street home of the Department of Health - was cited as a particularly bad example.

Assurance was also sought as to whether or not high buildings were environmentally sustainable and suitable for Ireland's wet, windy climate.

Concern was also expressed that height strategy was not strategic but was a response to developer pressure.

Of the written submissions given to the consultation process, 47 per cent were "generally positive" and 22 per cent were "very critical".

Public meetings were attended largely by residents' groups and were "generally negative".

The report recommends that the revised proposals be incorporated into existing policy.

"Pending a positive response and subsequent endorsement by the full council, it would be the intention to progress the revised strategy as a draft variation of the development plan," the report says.

The Irish Times

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