“Rendered Meaningless”

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Thomas Street, Dublin, designated ‘ACA’, an Architectural Conservation Area by Dublin City Council council

Dublin City Council has extended permission for a modern office block on the site of two Georgian houses on Thomas Street, against the advice of its own senior planner and the Dublin Civic Trust.
…The Civic Trust said the decision to allow the development was frustrating as it “rendered meaningless” the conservation status given to the street.
There seems to be an attitude here that any development is better than none, even in a historic streetscape such as Thomas Street,” said Graham Hickey, conservation officer with the trust.”

Council Permits Demolition Of Dublin Georgian Houses Against Advice (Olivia kelly, Irish Times)

76 thoughts on ““Rendered Meaningless”

  1. Huppenstop

    I can’t get outraged at this anymore. This type of short-sighted cräp is how we operate. Sad.

    1. Am i still On this Island

      Normally I would be the first in line to Kick DCC over their crimes against architecture and buildings in the city but in this case… Both of the buildings are sandwiched between modern developments, will their refurb and renovation add to the area of Thomas street? Or would the needs of the community be better served by there removal and redevelopment.

      1. Huppenstop

        It just seems that there is an unofficial policy to let Dublin’s architectural heritage sink into ruin so that DCC can say “sure it’s in bits anyway, best thing is to rip it down”.

          1. huppenstop

            I would like us to get over paying mealy-mouthed lip service to Dublin’s architectural heritage whereby we designatE a street as an area of conservation and then sanction the demolition of two of it’s extant examples of Georgian architecture. Is it really beyond our ability to restore these houses or at least preserve the facades? If they are privately held, could we purchase them for the city and restore them? Knocking them down and erecting a glass fronted office building doesn’t seem to be a hugely imaginative solution to anything.

        1. Mort

          EXACTLY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Look at the amount of beautiful derelict building around town. But……..some of the protection laws are so absurd it’s almost impossible for the owners to refurbish them. I for one won’t miss a few sash windows.

  2. edalicious

    For fupp’s sake. Could they not at least leave up the facade? This city is going to be ugly as balls in 20 years time when all of the current batch of new builds start to look shite like the ones that went up in the 90s/00s.

  3. Sheila

    A friend of mine is trying to get an existing building licensed to open his business in. The Dublin council are being as difficult as possible about letting him because they would prefer it was knocked and a new building developed.

    Screw new jobs. Screw new businesses. Shiny new buildings is the priority in this city and country.

    1. WhoAreYa

      Apologies to your friend Sheila but you can see their point here in Thomas St.

      What notable architectural features remain in that hovel?

      And there is already a new building at the junction opposite.

      1. Sheila

        I can see why people would prefer to see these buildings replaced. It just pisses me off when the council sees fit to ignore their own planners policies / recommendations.

        Just to say (without giving too much away, its not my place to talk specifics) the building my friend wants to use is not listed or architecturally important, just useful :)

        1. WhoAreYa

          I believe conservation policies are more effective when played through on a case by case basis – there has to be something worth conserving which does not look the case here though I do see some coins even if painted over.

          Good luck to your friends – hope it’s a burrito joint LOL

  4. Formerly known as @ireland.com

    Let me get this straight. We are preserving 50yo chimney stacks in Dublin Bay, while destroying Georgian houses in Thomas St.

    If you wrote it as fiction, you would be laughed at.

    1. figleaf

      Leave those landmark chimchiminneys out of this!
      The dereliction of Thomas St always mystifies/ depresses me.
      It would be wonderful if money was put into renovating the beautiful old buildings rather than building new or leaving the old to rot.
      You’ve got places like the digital hub housing ultra modern IT businesses opposite old buildings which are falling down.

      1. Bejayziz

        They’re privately owned premises, you can force someone to spend money of renovating a building they own….There are ways around the problem, they could keep the facade and incorporate a new design into the old one, this seems to be beyond their imagination though

          1. DeSelby

            You can force them if they’re listed. DCC will carry out repairs and charge the buildings owner. (this happened to my ex-landlord)

  5. Trueblueterry

    We can save some buildings but it is unlikely that these two properties would ever have been saved so I believe the Council is correct in granting planning permission here. Thomas street is in terrible need of regeneration and sticking to the belief that one day people will want to renovate these derelict properties will only serve to prolong this dereliction until the street is crumbling and forgotten.

    1. medieval knievel

      agreed; but is it actually the buildings pictured which are the ones affected?
      if so, they have been massively damaged, and do not need preservation, they need to rebuilt.

      1. Chucky R. Law

        One has to question how they got into that state. Dublin has had a long history of developers buying old buildings and deliberately allowing them to deteriorate to a state where they can’t be saved so that the sites can be redeveloped rather than restored. Or the likes of Noel O’Callaghan who saw fit to simply knock things down when no-one was looking.

    2. Pothole

      agree.bringing jobs to the area would do more to preserve and regenerate the liberties than letting kips like the black building in the picture to deteriorate even further. what is to be saved in that building?

  6. Clampers Outside!

    As a local to the area and frequenter to Thomas St I welcome any development along the short stretch of street that is Thomas St. If the building in the pic – painted black with the poster on it – is the building in question then it’s about time that feckin’ eyesore was ripped out.

    There’s little to nothing on that spot to be preserved. Knock it! …please, please, please!!!!

      1. Jackdaw

        +1. What’s the alternative!! Leave it as the shithole that it is! F@@king Crusties. Go back to eating your lentils and your shite pretentious music!!

  7. Atticus

    What’s the alternative? Put the onus on a developer to pay the extra over cost to preserve the fascia of the building while constructing a limited development behind it? Or make the developer go somewhere else and just let the existing building go to sh1t and crumble to the ground?

    It’d be great if the existing street could be renovated keeping the old building fronts, but someone’s got to pay for it.

    1. Drogg

      I was thinking exactly the same thing. I always think those streets that the facia has been kept but the buildings behind have been ultra modernised are awesome.

  8. Andrew

    Why go to the effort of designating an area for conservation and then completely disregarding it! There’s too many Dublin streets loosing their character with the building of new inappropriate glasshouses! Cork St for example. Granted the buildings in question are in poor condition, but there are plenty of options to retain the facade and create something new behind them.

  9. Harchibald

    The fascia as is is probably unpreservable. But why oh why the planners can’t say “look you can have the amount of office space you want but you have to stick a Georgian style front on it in keeping with the area” is beyond me.

    1. Custo

      Indeed.

      However we’ll get an aluminium & glass monstrosity with wierd angles and slabs of granite at the entrance that will blacken over the years with spit and phlegm.

    2. ahjayzis

      Building mock Georgian facades isn’t the answer, that’s fraud. The whole idea of conservation architecture is to make the new and old distinct but complementary.

    3. martco

      I think that’s what the experts call the “pastiche” argument…

      the planning game is utterly subjective imo
      I tried to build a house next door to a protected structure (not even in its curtilage) couple years back, I attracted attention from An Taisce and a number of associated amateur planner friends, I tried everything 110% legit, 3 separate design reworks including one which was a precise Victorian villa replica (the one they complained about being “Pastiche”) what I learned is that really these fckrs just didn’t want a brick being laid, didn’t matter what it was
      succeeded in the end by having the neighbours house DELISTED (with his gleeful assistance from the neighbour as he himself felt it was a noose around his own neck) in the county devt plan review

      as it happens I don’t agree with pastiche myself, imo good design is what counts, I think its entirely ok to build something modern in an area consisting of 200year-old+ buildings as long as the design is thoughtful and stands the test of time, its entirely possible to preserve the sustainable old buildings and mix them with modern well designed buildings…take a walk around the canals in Amsterdam you’ll find lots of examples

  10. Selfie Sensation

    Historic Streetscape? Has Olivia Kelly walked down Thomas street any time recently? Half of it is falling down and the other half looks like it has fallen down. I’m all for preserving facades where appropriate but development needs to be allowed in the right places. Is there anything remarkable about these particular houses or is it just the fact that they are old that means they should be protected?

    As for Cork Street…

  11. Mylene

    The problem is the standard of modern architecture in Ireland is very low and aw feck it Irish people are thick and like ugly and tacky things and money.

    1. bruce01

      Very valid point, the visual cohesion of any Georgian buildings on Thomas St is destroyed by the ‘temporary sign’ which splits the structure in two and requires no planning decisions.

  12. Clampers Outside!

    Just did a bit of searching on this…. a bit of a timeline on permissions to develop and the preservation order.
    It appears development got the go ahead for the site in 2009, that permission runs out this year.
    So, the preservation order was put in place after permission to develop was given the go ahead. All they are doing is extending the permission period that was already granted by the opposing party, Ms Sheehan.

    It would appear that Ms Sheehan who gave the original go ahead for development and then went on to approve an ACA designation on the area, knowing the permissions she already gave, is now doing a full u-turn on those but has been denied that u-turn and her original permission is staying.

    Flibbertigibbet! Make up your mind Sheehan! it’s no wonder decisions take for ever to get made and get things done.

    “The development was granted permission by the council in 2009, on the recommendation of Ms Sheehan, but the 2,500sq m block was not built and planning permission was due to lapse this year.
    Since the original permission was granted, Thomas Street has been designated an ACA by the council, a planning control that aims to preserve the character of historic areas.”
    Source: http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showthread.php?p=116149620

  13. Disgrace

    Both buildings are in decent nick up to first floor level – it wouldn’t be a massive effort to rebuild the top levels (as has already been done on a number of old houses further up the street)

    This is an important stretch of buildings on one of the oldest streets in the city, and one that has remained largely intact. These houses were built in the mid 1600’s, with possible earlier fabric within – that’s nearly 400 years – and we want to wipe them off the map without even considering the other options?

    1. Clampers Outside!

      Wrong, sorry, but….

      The third building up, beside the shop in blue, has a completely glass front. There is nothing on the ground floor to be preserved. The middle one is pretty much the same and there is just a little to be preserved on the nearest one to us.

      So, it is basically the first floor facade and what is clearly a complete ruin on the second floor. As a local resident, it’s a costly and pointless exercise, IMO, to say that there is something worth preserving there. It’s not like they’d be able to make it look like the building across the street at LiDL. Now, that was worth preserving.
      But these three, faux-get-about-it! :)

      1. Disgrace

        Clampers, we’re not only talking about facade retention here, we’re talking about the whole building – all of these have modern or changed shopfronts – but behind them they have rooms, basements, staircases, returns, windows, chimneys – and whatever else might be hidden away there. The old cliche about not judging a book by its cover should apply here.

        1. Clampers Outside!

          What !?

          Have you looked at the pic. It IS the building painted black in the picture that we are talking about.

          The roof is gone, there are no stairs, chimneys, rooms, basements, staircases or anything like that to preserve. The ground floor is practically none existent half the second has been chopped up and sticky plastered with a load of cement to stop it falling out onto the street, there’s nothing behind it either and all you are left with is a few bricks on the ground floor of the front facade left to preserve. Get a grip, pay attention to THIS building and stop with the wishy washy objections to this development.

          1. Disgrace

            Just to be clear, it’s the two buildings behind the hoarding that we’re talking about. Both have intact ground and first floors (apart from shopfronts and fittings etc), and possibly basements/cellars – how do you know what the interiors are like? Again, if it’s based on the outward appearance well then I repeat the old ‘judging and book’ thing – These buildings were painted black to look bad, perhaps to fool people into thinking they’re of no importance – you can see where a portion of the black render has fallen off, revealing the original brick, which is a taster of how they could look again

            In very simple terms, that large V shape of missing bricks could easily be replaced and, instantly, you’d have a terrace

            Tbh though, it’s not about the architecture here – it’s about the history. These are VERY old buildings (former Inns according to Archiseek) which may even have medieval fabric within them.

          2. Clampers Outside!

            It’s the facade only. There’s nothing behind it. How do I know? Living a couple of hundred yards from it and having been keeping myself fairly up to scratch on the area I have never heard of anything worth saving behind what little is left behind the facade over the last 20 years. I cannot site any references because there are none.

            Permission was granted to go ahead in 2009. In the intervening period an ACA was granted. I believe that this is just a muscle exercise by those supporting the LATER ACA ruling to be followed to a T. Bureaucracy at work, at its worst.

            Look, if there was something worth protecting like the great job they did on the building housing LiDL across the road, I’d be all for it. But there is not.

          3. Disgrace

            Well, I’m a local too and I would rather see them saved, as individually plotted building, restored and used for whatever new purpose required, than being demolished and replaced with an oversized, out-of-character and precedent setting block that’ll probably lie empty anyway

            Also, a quick look at Google maps and you can see how substantial these buildings are – there’s a lot more going on here than just a ‘facade’

          4. Clampers Outside!

            You see, you already approach the idea of a development with an imagined negative outcome ….”than being demolished and replaced with an oversized, out-of-character and precedent setting block that’ll probably lie empty anyway”.

            Objections on this basis are just ridiculous. Is it all sunshine and beauty if it goes the development strangling route of the ACA in your imagination?

            Nonsense argument.

            Of course there is a lot more than just a facade, it’s a building, not just a facade. But there’s nothing behind the pathetic little that is left of the facade worth saving, that’s the bloody point.

          5. Disgrace

            Clampers, have you (or anybody of note) carried out either an architectural or archaeological survey of the site?

            Even if there is nothing there, the mere fact is that these are what remains of two 17th century buildings, which under law are afforded National Monument status.

            Yes, they are in poor condition but they ‘can’ be restored.

            I’m not against development at all. I’m simply against the destruction of our built heritage and I particularly have a love for Thomas St, and it’s character, its history and its people – bit by bit, it’s beginning to disappear and the safeguards put in place to protect it (the ACA) are being ignored.

          6. Clampers Outside!

            “have you (or anybody of note) carried out either an architectural or archaeological survey of the site?”
            Yes, lots of people have, see links below… I cannot believe you are making arguments against development and you don’t even know what you are arguing for, never mind not knowing what you are arguing against!

            “Even if there is nothing there, the mere fact is that these are what remains of two 17th century buildings, which under law are afforded National Monument status”
            Bullshit! That building(s) does not have National Monument status. The area has an ACA order, a completely different status, that has nothing to do with National Monument status.

            “what remains of two 17th century buildings”
            Jaysus me fuppin’ top is exploding! Will you stop with your total lies and makey up history. Those buildings are from nearly 200 years later. Proof? Here ya go, turn to pages 58 and 59 – http://issuu.com/dctrust/docs/thomas_street_study_master Just because there are medieval buildings on the street ya cant go saying the whole street is medieval ffs.

            “Yes, they are in poor condition but they ‘can’ be restored.”
            Will ya get a grip on reality. It’s nonsense like that that results in actual real monuments being restored to death and if let restored further would be a total rebuild. A recent example in the news, and on here, would be Skellig Michael, which nearly lost its UNESCO status because of fools over restoring… basically rebuilding from scratch. That’s not restoration, that’s just rebuilding and that’s how it is viewed by the likes of UNESCO.
            Some things cannot be restored. This is one such building. This idea that anything, even a few bricks left of a facade, can some how be restored is ridiculous nonsense. See the link above again for the image on p59 for something closer to the reality.

            “I’m not against development at all. I’m simply against the destruction of our built heritage and I particularly have a love for Thomas St, and it’s character, its history and its people – bit by bit, it’s beginning to disappear and the safeguards put in place to protect it (the ACA) are being ignored.”
            No. Development was given the go ahead already. The “area” got an ACA of which, the buildings are part of that ACA, and only within reason. Just because a building is in the area does not give it some sort of automatic protection order. It’s that developments have more hoops and conditions to satisfy first.

            The ACA ruling unsurprisingly doesn’t even mention these buildings among the many, many that it does, in fact, it by passes them (like the report in the previous link) and discusses the buildings running from Meath St up towards St Catherines. You’ll find more on that here – https://www.dublincity.ie/sites/default/files/content//Planning/HeritageConservation/Conservation/Documents/Thomas%20Street%20ACA%20Final%20Document.pdf

            Regarding your assumption this was medieval Dublin, may I recommend this – http://friendsofmedievaldublin.wordpress.com/publications/

            And here’s a little more on that mad assumption about National Monuments you made at the beginning. The National Monuments Act – http://www.irishstatutebook.ie/1930/en/act/pub/0002/print.html

            Thanks

  14. 15 cents

    its a pretty sh!tty building to be fair. i pass it every day. that little row of building are quite rubbish. would be diff if they were nice. as long as the new ones put in their place are nice. not just a sheet of glass jobby.

  15. DaveM

    Wait,wait I’ve got it! how’s about an insomnia coffee and a burrito shop.Now there’s some blue sky thinkin’ lads.

      1. Pothole

        agree – will all the noise about lack of premium office space – a discreetly located office block – with an international tenant would bring substantial benefits
        there is a completely under utilised space on Newmarket square – could be converted to a civic and office space – transport links are good
        and remove all temp signage on shops on Thomas st and the are – there should be enforced guidelines on what shop frontage should look like – and grants provided if necessary to conform to this
        Francis street is an example – this street is promoted internationally as an antique quarter – this image should & could be replicated through out the are

      2. barton

        It’s a bit late now. Thomas St is so close to the city centre, really only a couple of minutes walk. (kinda) But all through the Celtic Tiger years it remained resistant to any meaningful gentrification/improvement. It looked like a bombsite 15 years ago, It’s still a dump.

        1. Formerly known as @ireland.com

          I am amazed at how much of Dublin still looks like a bombsite, after all the years of the Celtic Tiger.

    1. bisted

      …strongly agree with Pothole on the signage thing. If the council were as diligent on promoting a minimum standard for building fronts and signage as they are with billing for ‘street furniture’, streets like Thomas St could be transformed in no time.

  16. Pothole

    It is actually unbelievable that an area with such potential has had little or no focus in the last 20 years

    In my opinion the only way of truly and sustainably protecting the area is by getting people to live and work in the area, this will bringing the necessary funds so that it is sustainable for the business and building owners(one substantial and discrete office block could bring these benefits through the multiplier effect)
    -as barton states Thomas street and the surrounds is pretty much the city .
    it is much more accessible than say Rathmines (which is just as much of a kip at present)
    and if scrubbed up and given the correct focus it could actually be the real cultural quarter.
    And pull tourists away from the abomination that is temple bar.

    Anyway rant over

    1. Atticus

      Funny thing is that Thomas St. is visited by a ridiculous amount of tourists every year as they trundle past all the battered buildings and market stalls selling cheap bog-roll on their way to see Ireland’s biggest tourist attraction.

      I’m surprised there wasn’t some type of initiative to clean it up for that reason alone. The road up to Johnnie Foxes is in a better condition than Thomas St. and that’s up in the bloody mountains!

      1. Disgrace

        The current QBC works will result in new footpaths and street furniture the entire length of the street, which will really improve the area.

  17. Stephen

    Yeah I don’t see too much of a problem here really, as has already been pointed out the buildings are semi-derelict, there are actually some quite good examples of sympathetic modern architecture in the immediate area, NCAD’s renovation, Vicar Street. I am personally anathema to façade retention, as it usually highly unimaginative. People commenting would be better placed putting their energies into making sure what’s built is off a certain quality. Many people easily get outraged behind their laptops but people are never suitably outraged to go and affect or engage with the design process but happy to complain at the other side.

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