Tuesday 21 April 2009

Anger as developers plan to demolish 1916 site

A MASSIVE €1.25bn shopping centre on Ireland's busiest thoroughfare would involve demolishing listed buildings including the site of the last stand of the 1916 rebels, a public hearing was told yesterday.

James Connolly Heron, a relative of 1916 leader James Connolly, voiced his concerns at the plan to redevelop the site of the old Carlton cinema site on Dublin's O'Connell Street.

Developer Joe O'Reilly, through his development company Chartered Land, proposes creating a mixed-use development of 125,000 square metres on a 5.5 acre site bounded by O'Connell Street, Parnell Street and Moore Street.

Two new public streets will be created and three new public squares. There will be 64 apartments, 98 shops, 17 restaurants and the anchor tenant will be the John Lewis department store.

In addition, a 'park in the sky' will be built on the upper storeys -- allowing shoppers to look out over the city. The scheme will be eight-storeys high, and have four basement levels. A theatre and art gallery will also be provided, while the 1916 houses on Moore Street will be converted into a commemorative centre.

But plans to relocate the 1937 art deco facade of what used to be the Carlton cinema have proved controversial. The developers also propose retaining the facades of 12 listed structures, but conservationists say the entire buildings should be protected.


The Irish Georgian Society also said it had 'serious concerns' about a proposed public plaza on O'Connell Street which was more a "tolerable, if grandiose, entrance to a shopping mall" rather than a true public space.

The scheme was too tall, and demolishing protected structures would "undermine" the historic streetscape, Emmeline Henderson said.

"To grant permission in its current form would result in the architectural and historic character of O'Connell Street being seriously and irreversibly undermined."

Moore Street traders urged that permission be granted, saying that the derelict nature of much of the site was a "negative feature" and it was a "miracle" that the market had survived.

"If Moore Street is not developed it will die," Ernie Beggs said. "Last year, we lost 15 traders to retirement."

The An Bord Pleanala planning hearing is expected to last for up to a week and objectors include An Taisce, Treasury Holdings, the National Graves Association and Relatives of the Signatories of the Proclamation of Independence.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent


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