Republican News · Thursday 5 October 1999

[An Phoblacht]

Initial victory against Kilmainham plans

Plans by property developers to dwarf Kilmainham Jail and surrounding residences with a large development have received a set-back.

Dublin Corporation's Planning Department has sent the plans back to the developers, Charmside, following a flood of objections from local residents.

The plans had involved replacing the Rowantrees buildings opposite the entrance to Kilmainham Jail with nearly half a million square feet of office space, in three modern office blocks - two of which would have risen six storeys above ground.

The plan also included a two-storey underground car-park for just 500 cars, despite them having assumed a work force of 3,000 people on the developed site. Residents had opposed the plans on a number of grounds, namely the size, density, height and fabric of the buildings. The increased level of traffic and the failure of the plans to comply with Dublin Corporation's own Urban Design Plan for Inchicore / Kilmainham, also factored among the objections raised.

In rejecting the planning application, Dublin Corporation's Planning Department have sought additional information on the scheme, while at the same time asking that the plans be substantially altered if they are to be considered again.

The alterations sought include reducing the scale of the development, a greater diversity in the use to which new offices are put and that the building be devised as a landmark of excellent architectural standards. Residential uses and/or a hotel should be considered for the site, the Corporation say and the buildings should be integrated into the adjoining public realm. ``Alternative architectural proposals would be more in character with and would enhance the nearby Protected Structures,'' Dublin Corporation say. They have also sought archaeological reports and a ``sustainable transport plan'' for the development.

Dublin South Central Sinn Féin representative, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, has supported the campaign since its initial public meeting in St James Hall in August. While continuing to be involved in the committee, he's lobbying for the site to be bought by the Department of Arts, Heritage, the Gaeltacht and Islands. Ó Snodaigh says that he wishes to ensure that the Kilmainham development would utilise the site's tourism potential, focussing on the national monuments of Kilmainham Jail, the Royal Hospital, Richmond Tower, and the old courthouse. ``We must enhance, rather than detract from, the historical, archaeological and architectural value of the area,'' Ó Snodaigh says. He cautioned that speculators such as Johnny Rohan and Richard Barret of Charmside ``don't just walk away from a site'', and that a long fight against such a development could be ahead of local objectors. The duo had been involved in the rejected Spenser Dock project on the quays and in other contentious developments around the city.

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