Monday 15 October 2007

Dublin City Council to develop new vision for the Liberties

Dublin City Council has launched a new urban regeneration project for the Liberties area in Dublin's inner city, to be developed in close consultation with the local community.

The City Council will work with the local community to develop a regeneration framework plan for the area. The area extends from St James' Hospital to the west and Francis Street to the east. The northern boundary is Thomas Street and the southern boundary is Cork Street.

A project like this is bound to take time, so the timeframe the Council is looking at is between 8 and 10 years, at a minimum. The scale of the project is similar to Ballymun. A lot of the investment will come from public funding and from private investors - with the City Council releasing land in return for new social housing and other community amenities and facilities.

"Instead of us presenting the community with a draft scheme and asking for their views, the City Council and the community will work together to develop a vision for the area" - said John Tierney, Dublin City Manager. "This approach is already working well in Ballymun and gives the community the opportunity to plan the future they want for their area.

Evelyn Hanlon, who formerly worked on the Ballymun Regeneration project, has been assigned by Dublin City Council to project manage this new and important regeneration project.

A programme of community engagement will run throughout the autumn - having been launched at the Guinness Storehouse on Monday 8th October. The programme will start with three Neighbourhood Meetings - running from 3.30 pm to 7.00 pm - which will allow people who work in the area, as well as those living in the area, to come along and have their say. The first two meetings have already taken place, with the final meeting due to be held on 18th October in St James Parish Hall, St James Street. This meeting will deal with the Grand Canal Harbour/Basin Lane area.

The City Council has appointed John Thompson and Partners (JTP) - a firm of architects, urban designers and community planners - to work with the local stakeholders and residents to develop a vision for the area. The vision will be included in a Framework Plan for the area and will help to form the basis for regeneration.

The area has a tremendous heritage of urban history and planning - including the City Basin and the Grand Canal Harbour. It also has some very important historic sites, including the Abbey of St Thomas which was founded in 1177 to commemorate Thomas à Beckett and dissolved in 1539 by Henry V111. The area is visited by thousands of tourists each year.

One project already at design stage in the area is the re-introduction of water into the old Grand Canal Harbour (the harbour was used by Guinness boats until it was filled-in the 1960s and was originally built in 1785 and was the terminus of the Grand Canal). This new waterway will be surrounded by retail, offices and apartments and will be an important signal that the famous Liberties area is being restored to its former glory.

The area already has a thriving entertainment industry, with Vicar Street and the Tivoli Theatre. In recent years, architectural firms have moved into the area and the City Council hopes they will become actively involved in the consultation workshops - in their role as residents of the area.

John Thompson & Partners are architects, urban designers and community planners with substantial experience of residential and mixed-use development and regeneration in both the public and private sectors. Established in 1994, JTP work throughout the UK and Europe and have offices in London and Edinburgh.

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