Monday 13 November 2006

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council: A Study of Building Height

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council: A Study of Building Height

Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council is to seek advice on a strategic approach to building height across the County.

The Green Party say:

The terms of reference for this study appear not to have been brought before the Council for consideration prior to the initiating this study. Given the influence of the DEGW Report ‘Managing Intensification and Change A Strategy for Dublin Building Height’ over significant decisions on considering Planning Applications for taller Buildings in Dublin City it would have benefited to have an input from elected representatives prior to commissioning the Study.

The Study should be brought before the Council in draft form prior to completion. The Council should then consider amending or varying the
County Development Plan to reflect the views of the Council on the Study’s recommendations.

The move towards higher density development is welcome, but such development needs to provide clear benefits for the existing population as well as the occupants of the buildings themselves.

There is significant concern amongst the population of the County concerning recent Planning Applications for tall buildings. Many define tall buildings as being structures only one story higher than the existing buildings in that area.

Taller buildings raise significant concerns about infrastructure, particularly transportation. Without a significant investment in public transportation, tall buildings will place significant pressure on the existing environment.

Significantly tall buildings would need to be of exemplary and outstanding design quality to merit consideration. Tall buildings, particularly those with office use can become ‘vertical cul-de-sacs’ that add little to the social fabric of the areas where they are located.

Tall buildings may also present environmental difficulties as they generally intensify wind speeds at ground floor level, and thus present difficulties that are exacerbated for children, older persons, or those with mobility impairments.

Taller buildings should be placed so as not too significantly overshadow or overlook existing buildings. As moves to maximise solar energy through the use of exterior water panels or other devices increases, the placing of taller buildings may reduce the light and potential energy capture of existing or other buildings.

A proposal for significantly taller buildings require carefully consideration in existing residential areas, as such buildings can reduce the amenity value to existing residents.

Any proposal to allow for significantly taller buildings should be considered in conjunction with other
Dublin Local Authorities, and a coherent master-plan for any such buildings should be prepared to reflect the views of all communities in the greater Dublin Area.

Taller buildings should only be considered for locations that have excellent availability of public transport and will need to demonstrate that the users will favour public transport, walking or bikes for their mobility requirements.

Any proposal for taller buildings should favour mixed-use development.

The Study may seek to establish minimum and maximum building densities and / or height is particular areas.

Getting the balance right is a challenge for the County. While conceding that many existing settlements are built at low densities (such as the one and two story developments and surface car-park in Stillorgan) there is widespread concern at the emergence of Planning Applications for buildings that are ten stories high or more in such locations.

There is significant scope for increasing building densities through good design, rather than through maximising building heights.

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