Monday 17 March 2008

Proposal to preserve Pigeon House chimneys rejected

PLANNERS IN Dublin City Council have rejected a proposal to preserve the Pigeon House chimneys at Poolbeg by adding them to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS), on the basis that they are not of sufficient architectural, social or historical value.

The 207m (680ft) candy-striped twin chimney stacks at the ESB's Poolbeg generating station have been one of the city's most recognisable landmarks for more than 30 years, but have never had protection from demolition.

Last July Labour councillor Dermot Lacey proposed that the chimneys be added to the RPS on the grounds that they are an essential part of the city's industrial heritage. Mr Lacey's proposal was approved by his fellow councillors, and went forward for assessment to the council's conservation offices.

The move to preserve the chimneys followed last year's decision by the ESB to close the Poolbeg power station by 2010. The ESB said no decision had been made on the future of the stacks and it was unlikely that any decision would be taken until the plant closed.

The company has also yet to decide whether it will sell the 90-acre site on which the stacks stand. The site is likely to become prime development land in the coming years with plans to move much of Dublin port's activities outside the city and proposals to turn the Poolbeg area into a high-density urban quarter.

However, if the chimneys were added to the RPS, any development would have to incorporate the two giant stacks, which, while considered a vital piece of Dublin's heritage by the councillors, could be seen as an eyesore by developers and homebuyers.

The planners said the stacks were currently of architectural interest due to their height, but their present prominence "will be diminished by upcoming developments in the docklands area". They were of a "certain level of architectural, social and historical significance" but not to a sufficient level to satisfy the criteria under the planning acts for entry to the RPS.

Mr Lacey said yesterday that councillors were now examining all measures possible to protect the chimneys. Local Fianna Fáil TD Chris Andrews is also seeking protection for the chimneys and has called for an interim preservation order to be applied to ensure they are not disturbed without the council's sanction.

"The council must ensure that they are not caught on the hop. A preservation order should be fast tracked ensuring that these important structures are protected and I intend to raise this matter in the Dáil."

The chimneys were an important part of Dublin's social history, he said.

The Irish Times

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