Wednesday 23 January 2008

Dublin's skyscraper proposal to combat urban sprawl

Buildings more than twice the height of Liberty Hall are to be considered in strategic locations in Dublin city including Grangegorman, around Connolly, Tara Street and Heuston stations and the docklands.

Dozens of other areas have been identified as having potential for high-rise or "landmark" buildings or intensive/dense developments under a new Dublin City Council strategy aimed at consolidating the city and halting urban sprawl.

The plan, Maximising the City's Potential: A Strategy for Intensification and Height, will be on display in the Civic Offices at Wood Quay from tomorrow and the public will have until March 7th to make submissions on what the council says is one of the greatest challenges to Irish traditions and perceptions in the last 50 years.

The intention to site high-rise or landmark buildings in areas such as the docklands and near Heuston Station has been well flagged by the council, with buildings of more than 100m already planned there. However, this is the first time the council has been so direct in specifying such a large number of areas which it believes are ripe for high-rises or for dense developments.

It is also the first time the council has defined terms such as high rise. In its scale of potential building heights, low rise, which encompasses most of the existing buildings in the city, is anything under 15m, typically a building of less than four storeys. Mid-rise buildings are between 15m and 50m, with the tallest of these buildings generally in the 12- to 15-storey range.

High-rise buildings, of which there are very few in the city, are those between 50m and 150m. Dublin's oldest "skyscraper" Liberty Hall just makes it into this category at 59m. The last category is super high-rise, which defines a building of more than 150m. No such building currently exists in the State. Such very tall buildings are likely to be confined to key locations in the city centre. However, the strategy does not exclude them from suburban areas if they are appropriate to the surrounding developments.

Tall towers could also be accepted in suburban areas such as Phibsborough village and Mountjoy (following the closure of the prison), Eastwall Road and its environs and Dolphins Barn. Permissible heights in these areas would be determined by individual plans called "framework plans" devised by the council.

Outlying areas have also been earmarked for high density development. These have existing or planned strong public transport links and include many former industrial sites surrounding Coolock, Ballymun, Finglas and Drimnagh. Banks of land in these areas would maximise the potential of public transport and have been identified as "having significant potential for intensification and growth" in the strategy.

Any high-density or high-rise development must not have an adverse impact on built and natural heritage, environmental amenities and quality of life in existing residential or proposed communities, the strategy states.

The Irish Times

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