Thursday 13 August 2009

An Bord Pleanála rejects city centre 'park in the sky'

PLANS FOR a 13-storey building topped by a “park in the sky” at the heart of the proposed Carlton Cinema development on O’Connell Street have been rejected by An Bord Pleanála.

The board has directed developers Chartered Land to significantly scale back the overall plans for the development of the 5.5-acre site in the centre of Dublin city, and omit the 13-storey building, before it makes a final decision on permission.

The scheme pays “insufficient respect” to the classical form of O’Connell Street, involves too much demolition, and conflicts with several statutory plans for the area, the board has said.

Chartered Land, which is controlled by shopping centre developer Joe O’Reilly, was granted permission for the commercial and residential development, centred on the site of the former Carlton Cinema, by Dublin City Council last December.

This was subject to a large number of appeals to An Bord Pleanála, including several from groups seeking to protect the National Monument at number 16 Moore Street which was used by the leaders of the 1916 Rising. A public hearing on the development was held last April.

The board has this week written to Chartered Land seeking 16 significant modifications, which must be submitted before November 2nd. Chief among these is the omission of the “iconic building” – a 35-metre structure topped by a sloping public park, which was to be the focal point of the scheme. This element should be removed from the plans and the redesigned buildings should not exceed the height of the Arnott’s scheme – a neighbouring development for which the board has approved a seven-storey scale.

Despite having been granted permission from Dublin City Council, the board notes that the development is in conflict with several of the council’s statutory plans including the Architectural Conservation Area designation. The proposed scheme would disrupt the historic street pattern and was “over-scaled” in relation to the historic buildings around it.

The revised development should retain the original street pattern of the area, the extent of demolition should be reduced, and the existing buildings on Henry Street and Moore Street should be substantially retained.

The board also wants a redesign of the entrance to the development from O’Connell Street. The current proposals are for a 35-metre wide entrance partially fronted by a screen of thin, paired columns topped by a flat canopy, with the entrance buildings cut on a diagonal representing a funnel shape.

This entrance should be reduced to the width of Henry Street and set at right angles to O’Connell Street following “a traditional format” the board said. The entrance buildings should also use more traditional materials it said. Parking for the development should be reduced from 1,100 spaces to not more than 500.

While the letter imposes huge changes, it does state that the site is “general suitable for the type of development proposed”, suggesting that permission would be granted if the necessary modifications are made.

Irish Times

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