Republican News · Thursday 07 September 2000

[An Phoblacht]

Locals oppose dwarfing of Kilmainham Jail

Plans by property developers to dwarf historic Kilmainham Jail and surrounding houses are being opposed by residents of Kilmainham and Inchicore in Dublin.

The plans involve the destruction of the relatively new Rowantrees building opposite the entrance to Kilmainham Jail and replacing it with nearly half a million square feet of office space, in three modern office blocks, two of which would rise six storeys above ground. The plan, by Charmside Ltd, also includes a two-storey underground car park with capacity for 500 cars.

Strong opposition was voiced at the public meeting in St James' Hall on Thursday 31 August which launched a campaign of opposition against the plan. Spurred by the success of two other communities in Dublin, who achieved victory in recent months against plans for unwelcome and intrusive office development, the meeting agreed to appeal to the public to support them. Objections to the plans can be sent to the Principal Officer, Planning Department, Dublin Corporation, Block 4, Floor 3, Civic Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin 8.The reference number is 2467-00. Objections to the plans have come from near and far to date, including several from people in the USA. The final day for receipt of objections is Tuesday 19 September.

The meeting organised a door-to-door petition, which states that the development is wholly unsuited to the site on a number of grounds, namely:

  • That the size and density of the buildings do not blend with the architectural and historical heritage of the area;

  • That the houses backing onto the site would be completely overshadowed by the development;

  • That the level of traffic that the development would attract would be beyond the capacity of the local road network or the local transport system even with the advent of LUAS. Traffic gridlock is already a feature of the area, with LUAS resulting in more delays;

  • That the proposed 500 car spaces and 11 spaces for visitors, would be totally insufficient considering that it is projected that over 3,500 people would be working there.

Speaking after the meeting to An Phoblact, Sinn Féin's Dublin South-Central representative, Aengus Ó Snodaigh, said:

``Consideration should be given to having a landmark building on the site which utilises the site's tourism potential, focusing on the national monuments of Kilmainham Jail, The Royal Hospital, Richmond Tower, and the old courthouse. Instead, this building would detract from the historical and architectural importance of the area. The concerns of local residents about traffic and the size and density of the proposed development are well-founded and should result in this ill-conceived plan being rejected by the authorities.''

He also pointed out that the development is contrary to the development parameters outlined in Dublin Corporation's Urban Design Framework, prepared as part of Inchicore's Integrated Area Plan. This advocates ``the development of the heritage potential and associated tourism and employment, regeneration of derelict areas whilst respecting existing urban fabric'' and says that any building on this site would ``take its building line from the adjacent development on either frontage, perhaps responding to the strong form of the complex of buildings opposite''.

One of the organisers of the meeting, John Callery, likened the area to the Bastille district in France. ``It's steeped in history and we should be trying to make more of it, not take away from it,'' he said. ``To consider building offices is like Wood Quay all over again.''

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