Wednesday, 30 September 2009

City to pay €10m to society for grounds

A CITY has agreed to pay €10 million in compensation to the Munster Agricultural Society (MAS) to acquire its historic Showgrounds home in Cork.

The payment is a quarter of what the society had sought. But an MAS spokesperson described it as "a win win situation for all involved".

A report on the terms and conditions of the deal is being prepared for city councillors.

It will be presented to them within the next two weeks before it can be signed off.

The compensation deal paves the way for the creation of a massive public park which city officials say will be as important to Cork as the Phoenix Park is to Dublin.

It will also facilitate the GAA’s plans to expand Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The proposed park is a key element of the city’s multi-billion Docklands regeneration project.

The compensation deal was finally agreed late last week almost two years after a Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) on 10 hectares in the docklands was cleared.

Cork City Council began the CPO process in 2006. It moved to acquire five separate sites around Páirc Uí Chaoimh totalling 10 hectares — the largest of which is the 8.7 hectare Showgrounds land in Ballintemple.

Following an oral hearing in November 2006, An Bord Pleanála confirmed the CPO in early 2007.

A notice to treat was served on the MAS in June 2007, but following the failure of either side to agree a compensation payment, an arbitration process was initiated.

That hearing took place last May and was told the society was seeking up to €42 million in compensation.

MAS’s legal representative said the MAS had leased the Showgrounds, which hosted agricultural shows and other events, from the council since 1892 and had 75 years left on its lease.

He said the charitable organisation was entitled to compensation under two possible headings based on:

* the market valuation of the Showgrounds site, estimated at €42m;

* or the "equivalent re-instatement" cost — the cost of building a similar facility elsewhere — estimated at more than €39m.

Mr Holland said the society was seeking the higher of whichever of the two amounts is chosen following arbitration.

"The future of the Munster Agriculture Society is at stake in these proceedings," he said at the time.

Meanwhile, it has emerged that a substantial amount of non-hazardous waste has been found buried on the Showgrounds site.

The city’s Environment Directorate is investigating the matter and talks to resolve the issue are ongoing.

Irish Examiner

Tuesday, 29 September 2009

RTÉ planning €360m revamp

A €360 MILLION redevelopment of the RTÉ Montrose site will be funded mainly through borrowing and the rental of offices and residences at the broadcasting hub.

The national broadcaster yesterday unveiled an ambitious 15-year plan to put in place the sort of modern facilities necessary for the digital age.

The bulldozing of landmark buildings at the Donnybrook studios is expected to begin in late 2011, if planning permission is secured.

RTÉ said the redevelopment would not be funded through TV licence fees.

The project will see a gradual replacement of most of the 1960s and 1970s buildings.

Announcing the five-phase development, RTÉ director general Cathal Goan said: "Clearly this is not an ideal time to be announcing a large proposed construction project. But to remain competitive and to continue to give Irish viewers, listeners and web-users the best possible services, we have to invest in new facilities built for the digital age."

RTÉ announced the huge building plan ahead of submitting a 10-year planning application to Dublin City Council, in advance of the authority’s review of land rezoning next month.

The proposal includes mixed zoning, including residential units to the front of the 32-acre site which will either be rented or possibly sold. New offices and multimedia facilities will also be rented and are expected to help fund the loan.

Montrose staff will be given an opportunity to view the plans from 10am today, and trade unions and management were briefed yesterday on the project.

RTÉ will continue to broadcast while the new buildings will be constructed at the Donnybrook village end of the land. It is expected that 670 construction jobs will be provided during the project.

It will be built in five phases, depending on finances available. RTÉ have also not ruled out not being able to complete the huge plan, and have prioritised its new high-definition studios, which will cost €140m.

"We are confident that the most cost-effective, sustainable and technically robust option available is to reconfigure our existing site and incorporate all facilities into a single new building," Mr Goan said.

Under the plans, sections of the new building, which will take up nearly half the Donnybrook site, will rise to 33 metres, double that of the current highest building.

RTÉ senior officials are keen to have state-of-the-art digital and online facilities by 2012, to compete with other broadcasters like the BBC.

During planning, officials were sent abroad to look at other studios in Denmark, Finland, Scotland and Hungary.

The new building will also save electricity with better insulation and construction. At present, Montrose uses the same amount of electricity as Kilkenny city.

Most of the €360m will be borrowed on the basis of revenue from renting future facilities.

Some funds will also come from its cash reserves and upkeep budget.

RTÉ have not ruled out any joint venture on parts of the site and expect it will be 2016 at the earliest before sections are completed.

Changes will include doubling the audience capacity for the Late Late Show from 400 to 800.

Irish Examiner

Mayor calls for regulations over planning objections

THE mayor of Limerick city has called for new regulations concerning objections that are lodged with An Bord Pleanála to developments approved by a local authority.

Cllr Kevin Kiely said that over the past two years, developments worth €1.2 billion had been delayed or lost in Limerick due to objections lodged with and appeals board, although they had been approved by the city council.

"This has a devastating affect on the city centre. The planners down here in Limerick know what is happening in the city with regard to planning and before they give planning permission, every application is examined over and over again, before a decision to grant permission is arrived at."

In the latest setback a plan to develop a €20 million structure on the site of Limerick Boat Club was overturned by An Bord Pleanála after a number of objections were lodged.

Up to 200 construction jobs would have been on offer had the development been given the go-ahead.

Mr Kiely said as the rules stand, a person can object to any kind of project by lodging a nominal sum of money with An Bord Pleanála.

"I think if a person is going to go to An Bord Pleanála to object to a development approved by the local county or city council, they should have to sign a bond for a substantial sum of money, say €10,000.

"If their appeal is upheld then they would not be asked to honour the bond.

"However, if the objection is turned down by An Bord Pleanála, the objector should be made liable to honour the bond entered into. We are witnessing huge projects in the city being lost when we need jobs and investment."

He said Bord Pleanála does not appear to understand what the council is trying to do to bring more quality projects and investment into the city centre.

"The city council centre turned down planning permission for a number of fast food outlets with good reason. But they were given the go ahead on appeal to An Bord Pleanála. Now these two small outlets are causing huge traffic problems where they are located."

Irish Examiner

Monday, 28 September 2009

U2 tower faces major new delays

The consortium that won the rights to develop the U2 tower in Dublin's south docks does not expect the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) to move forward with the project for the foreseeable future. Informed sources say the consortium - which comprises Sean Mulryan's Ballymore Group, developer and retailer Paddy McKillen and U2 themselves – intends to continue as preferred bidder however.

The consortium initially bid about €100m for the site, but the deal was never signed and the land's value has plummeted since.

The DDDA announced last year that negotiations on the future of the tower will not recommence until next month to allow for an "improvement in the current uncertainty surrounding the property and financial markets".

The property market has fallen further since then and the site is derelict.

The DDDA has held back on publishing its accounts, which are expected to show huge drops in the value of land its owns.

Meanwhile, Mulryan's Ballymore Group has moved a step forward in its bid to sell land it owns at Nine Elms in London to the US government for use as an embassy. The deal is dependent on the £500m (€555m) project securing planning approval from the relevant local authorities and Wandsworth Borough recently recommended outline planning be granted on the five-acre site.

The new embassy will be between 15 and 20 storeys high and the consent is subject to the US embassy agreeing a contribution towards the new Crossrail train line or towards the extension of the underground Northern line from Kennington. That extension is set to terminate close to the Battersea Power Station, which Treasury Holdings' controlled Real Estate Opportunities is planning to redevelop.

The US embassy hopes to be able to move in to its new embassy in 2016. It is currently in a row with the British Treasury over whether it should have to pay £50m in VAT towards the project.

Sunday Tribune

Carlisle Pier development

Letter to the editor from the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company to the Irish Times following its coverage of the Carlisle Pier issue.

Madam, – The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company wish to respond to the article by Frank McDonald regarding Carlisle Pier, published in The Irish Times on Saturday, September 12th, 2009. We consider the article to be one-sided, and it also contains a number of inaccuracies. We wish to correct these, as the writer made no attempt to make direct contact with the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company prior to publication.

None of the structures on the Carlisle Pier are on the existing or proposed lists for protection. The article referred to the 2007 Inventory of Buildings, Structures and Elements of Dun Laoghaire Harbour, undertaken by renowned conservation architects, Shaffrey Associates Architects. This was part of a three-year process, which involved consultation with conservation bodies, including An Taisce, amongst others. This inventory was primarily a record of all the buildings, structures, elements and uses within the harbour area at that time and is not a statutory document. The inventory has been available on our website and published in a full report, for over two years and at no time since then was its content challenged by any group or individuals.

Based on professional advice, the position of the Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company is that the site clearance works, including specialist removal of the asbestos material, are exempt from requiring planning permission. The statement in the article “but for the few concerned people who noticed it was being knocked down to make way for a car park” is misleading and chooses to ignore the facts. The company went through the due public tendering process and advertised the contract for the removal of the buildings, including specialist asbestos removal, on July 14th. This was reported in the national media, including your own publication, on July 23rd.

A planning application to open up the Carlisle Pier as a public and cultural amenity was submitted to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council on September 2nd. The planning application states the Harbour Company’s intent to provide a public promenade and look out point, together with handrails, seating and lighting. It also includes the erection of an open sided pavilion incorporating elements of the former train shed. This notice is in full view at the entrance to the site and the plans have been available on the website of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council since the first week in September.

The application also seeks usage of the Marine Road frontage for events of a cultural, educational, social, recreational or sporting character (including a food and craft market) and the provision of tents, vans or temporary or moveable structures or objects on the lands in connection with storage use. Within this there is provision of 50 bicycle parking spaces, up to 100 car parking spaces and for storage of approximately 50 boats.

This application particularly addresses the very specific objective of the current and Draft Development Plans of Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council which requires that “the redevelopment of the pier must incorporate uses that will bring significant cultural, social, recreational and economic benefits to Dun Laoghaire Rathdown and must provide for a high degree of public accessibility and permeability, with walkways, viewing areas and public spaces throughout”.

The article of September 12th. made no reference to the amenity and cultural aspects of the application.

The Dun Laoghaire Harbour Company is committed to providing further access to the harbour area by the public, and to further the marine, leisure and tourism potential for Dun Laoghaire Harbour in a manner which reflects and supports the objectives of all stakeholders. The company also want to do this in a manner which reflects and supports the objectives of the Draft County Development Plan and takes account of the special character of the harbour. In addition the company has recently completed the careful resurfacing of the East Pier which has been warmly welcomed by the thousands of walkers who use it. At the end of August, the company opened the East Pier Battery to the public for the first time and has long-term plans to restore this historic site in a sensitive and appropriate manner. – Yours, etc,

Chief Executive,
Dun Laoghaire Harbour
Dun Laoghaire, Co Dublin.

Irish Times

Large-scale €18m Carlow arts centre opens

A NEW arts centre has opened to the public in Carlow.

The Visual Centre for Contemporary Art and the George Bernard Shaw Theatre is a 40,000sq ft complex which the management claimed “will rank among the best international cultural spaces”.

The €18 million building contains four galleries, which will be used to stage temporary exhibitions of contemporary art, and a 353-seat theatre, which will host touring productions and also be used for local amateur and professional groups.

Managers said that the main gallery “is without precedent in Ireland” as its size will allow the display of “large-scale contemporary art installations”.

The inaugural temporary exhibitions include The Weight of Light: Irish Abstraction, featuring work by artists Sean Scully, Charles Tyrell, Maud Cotter and others.

The complex is expected to become a significant component of the national cultural infrastructure. Arts Council director Mary Cloake described it as “a superb, imaginatively conceived arts centre”.

The Visual Centre is the second major cultural centre to be built in the southeast this decade following the construction of the new Wexford Opera House.

The centre is located in the grounds of St Patrick’s College and was designed by London-based architect Terry Pawson.

For further details see

Irish Times

Friday, 25 September 2009

Enter the Dragon in 'Monopoly' row over D4 house

A ROW between two of the country's leading businessmen over plans to build a house on Dublin's most exclusive road took a bizarre twist yesterday.

Chairman of fruit importers Fyffes, David McCann, is embroiled in a long-running argument with Black Tie founder Niall O'Farrell over his plans to demolish a house on Shrewsbury Road and replace it with a new three-storey property more than twice its size.

And yesterday Mr McCann claimed that Shrewsbury Road's pre-eminent position on the 'Monopoly' board should result in planning permission being refused.

In an unusual submission to An Bord Pleanala, he also accused Mr O'Farrell, star of the RTE TV show 'Dragons' Den', of engaging in 'braggadocio' -- arrogant or boastful behaviour -- by seeking permission to build a new home.


Mr O'Farrell was granted planning permission by Dublin City Council last month to demolish the house on Shrewsbury Road and replace it with a new home more than twice the size.

He already owns another house on Shrewsbury Road, the seven-bedroom 'Thorndene' which is currently listed with an asking price of €14m.

Mr O'Farrell's property is a four-storey house with 863sq metres (9,290sq ft) of living space including a 50ft basement swimming pool and a cinema.

The house is described by property website as a "bespoke luxury residence of considerable style" set on just under half an acre of land.

Features include a grand staircase, modelled on that of Powerscourt Townhouse Centre in Dublin, made of white Alabama oak. The property combines historic Victorian features with the latest smart wiring technology. There is full planning permission for a sun patio area.

Mr O'Farrell previously spoke of his plans to move out of Thorndale but to stay on the "quietly sociable" Shrewsbury Road, where developer Sean Dunne also owns property.

He described 28 Shrewsbury Road as having been "butchered" over the years and spoke enthusiastically about his plans for renovation.

But now Mr McCann, a neighbour, has appealed the decision to the planning appeals board, claiming there is "no place" on the country's most expensive road for the Black Tie founder's dream home.

"Visitors to Shrewsbury Road are immediately struck by the mature, airy opulence of the streetscape. This is a notable feature. It affords the green context that adorns and complements the houses," Mr McCann's submission to An Bord Pleanala says.


"Shrewsbury Road had acquired this exalted status by the mid-20th Century. When the makers of the ever-popular property board game, Monopoly, came to produce an Irish edition, pride of place fell to Shrewsbury Road. That was in 1972. In achieving this accolade, the street matched the exclusivity set by its English counterpart at Mayfair."

It went on: "Shrewsbury Road is distinguished by an emphasis on secluded maturity. It is not a place for ostentatious braggadocio."

Mr O'Farrell bought the property for €7.5m and his neighbour claims the redevelopment would have a negative impact on the streetscape and his home with "excessive" overshadowing. He adds his home would suffer an "excessive and unreasonable loss of property value".

Mr O'Farrell said he was "disappointed" that his plans were being appealed.

"It has the support of neighbours on the road.

"The house is sympathetic to the road and the house is further away from both neighbours, and it's narrower too. The house now was built in the 1960s and has a flat roof, and is completely inappropriate. I hope the planners agree with me."

Permission to build two three-storey houses on the site was refused in August 2008. An Bord Pleanala is expected to issue a decision by next January.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent

Three new Luas routes to open in next two years

THREE NEW Luas routes to Saggart and Cherrywood in south Dublin and the docklands in Dublin city centre will open in the next two years.

However, a further four routes have been hit by the economic downturn, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey acknowledged yesterday.

Mr Dempsey said “the changed economic environment” meant a number of routes would not be meeting their Transport 21 deadlines, but he insisted they would ultimately be built.

In the meantime planning and design on these routes would continue, he said.

The Minister was speaking as he inspected the laying of tracks at Citywest as part of the Luas Red Line extension to Saggart.

A public-private partnership involving the Railway Procurement Agency (RPA), Harcourt Developments and the Mansfield Group, the 4.2km spur from Belgard is due to open in early 2011.

The RPA said that the total cost of the line was €149 million, of which the private consortium was putting up “in excess of 50 per cent in terms of civil works, land and a defined monetary contribution”.

There will be five stops at Fettercairn, Cheeverstown, Citywest Campus, Fortunestown and Saggart, with a 310-space park-and-ride facility at Cheeverstown.

The layout of the Belgard stop is to be reconfigured to provide an additional track and associated platform alterations.

The RPA estimated an additional four million passenger journeys per year will be made on the Red Line as a result of the extension.

Speaking at the laying of track yesterday, members of the private sector partnership said they had been promoting the project since 2001.

They said trams would be running on the line by the end of next year, but a testing period would mean it would be 2011 before the line was open to the public.

The RPA said work was already under way on tram-testing of the docklands extension in the city centre.

However the agency said it had had “an exchange of views” with companies controlled by the embattled property developer Liam Carroll over signs erected on a bridge at Cherrywood which proclaimed the Cherrywood extension was opening this year.

RPA spokesman Tom Manning said it was not proposed to open the line in 2009, and the agency had asked the property developer to remove the signs.

“Thankfully they are now gone”, said RPA spokesman Tom Manning.

New routes: timetables

The three new Luas routes set to open in the next two years are:

Early 2010: a city centre extension of the Luas Red Line to the Docklands with stops at George’s Dock, Mayor Square, Spencer Dock and The Point.

Late 2010: an extension of the Luas Green Line from Sandyford to Cherrywood, near Loughlinstown Hospital in south Dublin. Stops will be located at Central Park, Glencairn, The Gallops, Lepoardstown Valley, Ballyogan Wood, Lepoardstown Race Course, Carrickmines, Brennanstown, Laughanstown, Cherrywood and Brides Glen.

Early 2011: the Luas Red Line extension known as Citywest in fact runs from Belgard via Citywest to Saggart. Stops include Fettercairn, Cheeverstown, Citywest Campus, Fortunestown and Saggart.

Irish Times

Two Dublin buildings win major architectural awards

TWO CONTEMPORARY works of architecture in Dublin, the Alto Vetro residential tower on Grand Canal Quay and the Elmpark complex on Merrion Road, have won awards from the Chicago Athenaeum Museum of Architecture and Design.

They are among 97 distinguished projects and major urban schemes worldwide selected for this year’s International Architecture Awards – billed as “the most important barometer for the future direction of new architectural design and thinking today”.

Co-presented by the Chicago Athenaeum and the European Centre for Architecture, Art, Design and Urban Studies, this year’s award winners were chosen by an all-Finnish architectural jury from hundreds of submissions.

The 16-storey Alto Vetro tower was designed for Treasury Holdings by Shay Cleary Architects, while the mixed-use Elmpark scheme is by Bucholz McEvoy Architects. Its client was Radora Developments Ltd, headed by builder-developer Bernard McNamara.

Coincidentally, Merritt Bucholz was born in Chicago; he set up practice with his wife Karen McEvoy and now heads the University of Limerick’s School of Architecture. Their projects include Fingal County Hall and Limerick County Council’s headquarters in Dooradoyle.

One of the jury members, Anne Stenros, head of design at the Finnish Kone Corporation, said the most innovative projects were “urban landscapes”, such as Elmpark. However, she felt buildings reflecting the international style lacked a sense of place.

“Architectural awards are important from two points of view. Firstly, they create a base for benchmarking of best practices in the field. Secondly, they act as an international launch pad for young and upcoming talents,” she added.

The Athenaeum described this year’s award winners as “a Who’s Who in international architecture practice today . . . some of the world’s most talented thinkers from large and small architectural practices around the world”.

Of the 97 projects selected for awards, the US received the highest number (13), followed by China with eight, Britain and Japan with seven each, and Germany with six.

Irish Times

Local authorities told to use in-house architects for designs

THE DEPARTMENT of the Environment has told local authorities that they must rely on their own architects, those working for other local authorities or the National Building Agency (NBA) to design any new social housing schemes from October 1st.

The revised arrangements, notified to local authorities last month, have been interpreted by private sector architects as a way of denying them commissions to design social housing – although this was denied by a source in the department.

A circular letter, issued at the direction of Minister of State for Housing Michael Finneran, gives local authorities three options of implementing new projects approved by the department under the much-reduced social housing investment programme.

They must either “utilise available in-house professional services to provide the required planning, design and management services for the project” or “enter into a shared service agreement with another authority to provide the required services”.

The only other option given to the local authorities is to “engage the NBA to provide the required planning, design and management services for the project, including the procurement of such additional professional services as may be needed”.

The NBA will also continue to be available to provide technical advice on major regeneration programmes, feasibility studies and projects proposed by housing associations, according to the circular letter signed by principal officer Eddie Lewis.

However, with more vacant houses being leased long-term to meet social housing requirements, the number of new housing projects being approved by the department is likely to be small – leaving local authority architects with less work to do.

According to the source, who did not wish to be identified, the purpose of the circular was to ensure that local authorities would look to their own resources in the first instance, or to other local authorities which might have in-house architects available.

The source also emphasised that turning to the NBA did not necessarily mean that its architects would design new housing schemes, as there was explicit provision in the new arrangements allowing it to commission private sector architects.

“The NBA is not being given additional resources,” he said. “The big issue is getting value for money.

“And the reality is that there’s going to be fewer social housing units built because of the leasing arrangements. Hence, there will be less design work”.

He pointed out that 9,000 units would be provided this year for people on local authority waiting lists, despite a 25 per cent decrease in the overall housing budget.

“That’s because there are so many vacant houses that can be leased long-term instead.”

At a function last week to open an international workshop on architectural education, Minister for the Environment John Gormley said it showed “an optimism that architecture . . . will be resurgent as a profession when our economies come out of recession”.

Irish Times

Gormley concerned over city incinerator

MINISTER FOR the Environment John Gormley has said a contract signed by Dublin City Council to develop the incinerator at Poolbeg in Dublin may be anti-competitive.

Mr Gormley said he had written to the city manager to express his concern about the contract.

Speaking at an environmental conference yesterday, Mr Gormley said he had examined the council contract and had taken legal and economic advice and had written to the city manager about his concerns.

“If you have an incinerator of that size for 25 or 30 years . . . where you have a contract that guarantees the waste, you are drowning out competition, that is of concern,” he said.

He said other operators in the industry would not invest knowing that they cannot compete with a facility of the size of that planned for Poolbeg.

“I have always said that 600,000 tonnes does not make sense,” the Minister said. The council would have to “go back to the drawing board” if the contract proved to be anti-competitive, he said.

He also said he was prepared to look at a letter from the Irish Waste Association that recommended banning the export of incinerator ash.

It emerged yesterday that a landfill site near The Naul, in north Co Dublin, could become the location for Ireland’s first national facility for the treatment of hazardous ash generated by municipal waste incinerators.

Planning permission for the project is to be sought from An Bord Pleanála by Murphy Environmental Hollywood Ltd (MEHL), which already operates an inert landfill in Hollywood, The Naul.

The company said the site is strategically located between the Indaver incinerator now under construction in Duleek, Co Meath, and the proposed Dublin City Council facility planned for Poolbeg.

It said the project is in line with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Hazardous Waste Management Plan and the National Development Plan and should therefore qualify as “strategic infrastructure”.

MEHL has requested a pre-application consultation with An Bord Pleanála to determine whether the application can be considered under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, bypassing Fingal County Council.

The company is to seek approval for a change of use of the existing landfill at Hollywood while maintaining its current annual capacity limit.

A separate EPA waste management licence will also be sought.

“All waste treated at the facility will be non-biodegradable meaning it will not accept food waste and consequently have no odours, no methane, no vermin and no impact on greenhouse gases,” it said.

“The facility is expected to create more than 50 construction jobs and take 12-months to complete. Once operational, it is anticipated an additional 10 people will be employed directly,” the company said.

The announcement was made a day after the Irish Waste Management Association highlighted the absence of any facility here to treat incinerator ash and called for a ban on its export to other countries.

MEHL general manager Patricia Rooney said exporting ash not only resulted in considerable expense, but was also contrary to EU directives requiring each member state to deal with its own waste.

However, Minister for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent yesterday said he feared the toxic ash repository could damage farm production in north Fingal.

The Green TD for Dublin North said he had made his feelings on the matter known to Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Irish Times

Planning approved for Tralee ring road

An 13.5km ring road and bypass of the town of Tralee, the major part of it to be a dual carriageway which will carry almost 19,000 vehicles a day, has been given approval by An Bord Pleanála, writes Anne Lucey .

The compulsory purchase order of land from almost 80 landowners has also been approved. The go-ahead follows an oral hearing in Tralee in January . It will involve a number of rail crossings as well as river and minor road crossings.

The approval has been widely welcomed as a means of easing congestion and reducing journey times. Yesterday a council spokesman welcomed the board’s decision.

The total cost is expected to be in excess of €120 million.

Irish Times

Clare council may 'freeze' zoned land

Clare County Council is expected to “freeze” more than 4,000 acres zoned for housing around Ennis in response to Department of the Environment concerns about “unjustified and unsustainable” overzoning in various parts of the country.

In a letter to the council, the department has set a deadline for it to address the overzoning for housing in the Ennis development plan. It has warned that if the council has not provided a solution by October 16th, Minister for the Environment John Gormley will “be forced to direct the council to make the necessary changes to the adopted plan with immediate effect”.

The Ennis area has a population of 28,700 and official forecasts say there will be an increase of only 6,300 by 2020.

Irish Times

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Golf club welcomes right of way vote

THE GENERAL manager of Doonbeg golf club has admitted that the costs incurred by the golf club in a right of way dispute at the course over the past six years “have been significant”.

Speaking after members of Clare County Council voted overwhelmingly to end the long-running dispute by extinguishing a contentious right of way at the course, club manager Joe Russell said that he was “very, very pleased with the decision”.

Mr Russell said he was in contact with the council yesterday to find out what the next steps were in extinguishing the right of way and providing an alternative.

The council’s decision on Monday ends the public’s right to walk across the fourth and 14th fairways at the Greg Norman-designed Doonbeg golf course to Doughmore beach.

The alternative right of way is to be provided a short distance from the existing one, while the golf club is to construct a 70-space car park.

Mr Russell said the works to be undertaken would be done over the winter and would be in place for the 2010 summer season.

At the council’s adjourned September meeting, councillors voted 22 to three in favour of extinguishing the right of way. The long-running row has seen the golf club constructing a wall across the disputed right of way and involved two separate High Court actions.

The club is currently engaged in judicial review proceedings against an An Bord Pleanála decision which found that the wall was built across an existing right of way without planning permission. The case is listed for mention in the High Court next month.

The council has previously served a warning letter on the club over the construction of the wall.

At the meeting, long-time opponent of moves to extinguish the right of way, Fianna Fáil councillor PJ Kelly warned the decision would be legally challenged.

Irish Times

Flats in Dundrum to be bulldozed

SOME 42 households are to be moved from their local authority homes in Dundrum, Dublin, so the site can be bulldozed and redeveloped, Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council has confirmed.

The tenants at Rosemount Court in Dundrum have waged a long campaign for the complete refurbishment of the flat complex. Their homes have no central heating, no fire escapes and provide, they say, “dangerous living conditions”.

The flat complex, which was built in 1970, is within walking distance of the Dundrum Town Centre shopping complex. Tenants were two years ago assured the site would be redeveloped but no start was made.

A spokeswoman for the council’s housing department confirmed yesterday that tenants would be written to in coming days and invited to move to alternative accommodation within the available housing stock.

“The council is continuing to pursue the redevelopment of the area with the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government,” she said.

Acknowledging the delays in getting started on the project, she continued: “Having regard to the current condition of the dwellings at Rosemount Court, the difficulty of carrying out major refurbishments while people were still living there and the delay in obtaining approval to proceed, the council has been considering the possibility of de-tenanting for some time and has been reserving available units.

“So far the majority of the 42 tenants have expressed a willingness to transfer.”

Local Fine Gael TD George Lee, who has met tenants and heard their concerns, welcomed the move. “Rosemount Court was run-down and badly neglected, with its residents completely ignored,” Mr Lee added. “I am delighted at this news.”

Irish Times

Permission sought for ash plant

A landfill site near The Naul, in north Co Dublin, could become the location for Ireland's first "national facility" for the treatment of hazardous ash generated by municipal waste incinerators.

Planning permission for the project is to be sought from An Bord Pleanála by Murphy Environmental Hollywood Ltd (MEHL), which already operates an inert landfill in Hollywood, The Naul.

The company said the site is strategically located between the Indaver incinerator now under construction in Duleek, Co Meath and the proposed Dublin City Council facility planned for Poolbeg.

It said the project is in line with the Environmental Protection Agency's Hazardous Waste Management Plan and the National Development Plan and should therefore qualify as "strategic infrastructure".

MEHL has requested a pre-application consultation with An Bord Pleanála to determine whether the application can be considered under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, bypassing Fingal County Council.

The company is to seek approval for a change of use of the existing landfill at Hollywood while "maintaining its current annual capacity limit". A separate EPA waste management licence will also be sought.

"All waste treated at the facility will be non-biodegradable meaning it will not accept food waste and consequently have no odours, no methane, no vermin and no impact on greenhouse gases", it said.

"The facility is expected to create more than 50 construction jobs and take 12-months to complete. Once operational, it is anticipated an additional ten people will be employed directly", the company added.

The announcement was made a day after the Irish Waste Management Association highlighted the absence of any facility here to treat incinerator ash and called for a ban on its export to other countries.

MEHL general manager Patricia Rooney said exporting ash not only is resulted in considerable expense, but was also contrary to EU directives requiring each member state to deal with its own waste.

However Minister for Food and Horticulture Trevor Sargent yesterday said he feared the toxic ash repository could damage farm production in north Fingal

The Green TD for Dublin North said he had made his feelings on the matter known to Minister for the Environment John Gormley.

Meanwhile Mr Gormley said that a contract signed by Dublin City Council to develop the incinerator at Poolbeg in Dublin may be anti-competitive.
John Gormley said he had written to the city manager to express his concern about the contract.

Speaking at an Environmental conference yesterday, Mr Gormley said he had examined the council contract and had taken legal and economic advice and had written to the city manager about his concerns.

"If you have an incinerator of that size for 25 or 30 years… where you have a contract that guarantees the waste, you are drowning out competition, that is of concern," he said.

He said other operators in the industry would not invest knowing that they cannot compete with a facility of the size of that planned for Poolbeg.

"I have always said that 600,000 tonnes does not make sense," the Minister said. The council would have to "go back to the drawing board" if the contract proved to be anti-competitive, he said.

He also said he was prepared to look at a letter from the Irish Waste Association that recommended banning the export of incinerator ash.

On Monday the consortium behind the Poolbeg incinerator, Dublin Waste to Energy Ltd, said that the Dublin waste plan requires that the ash from the Poolbeg plant be recycled and not sent to landfill.

Irish Times

Monday, 21 September 2009

Gormley launches Open House 2009

Speaking at the launch of Open House Dublin and Galway 2009, Mr. John Gormley, TD, Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government, encouraged citizens to avail of the unique opportunity it provides to visit a wide range of buildings of architectural merit.

The Minister highlighted the fact that Galway is the first location outside Dublin to host the event and that this is a significant development with further potential in the coming years.

Minister Gormley referred to the imminent publication of the Government Policy on Architecture 2009-2015. When launched in October, the Policy will have a strong emphasis on sustainable development of the environment and good design. “The Policy is supportive of the incorporation of our architectural heritage in a holistic and integrated manner” - the Minister said.

“Since the idea of Open House was conceived 16 years ago in London by founder Victoria Thornton, the idea of opening buildings of architectural quality to the public and providing them with an educational and enjoyable experience has grown ever more popular with both the property owners and the public alike” - said Minister Gormley.

The Minister added - “Whether it is through designing the next generation of sustainable buildings or developing expert retrofit solutions - architects are constantly engaged in creative problem solving and Open House showcases their innovation.”

Open House Dublin runs from Thursday 8th to Sunday 11th October and Open House Galway 2009 from Friday 16th to Sunday 18th October.

All Open House Dublin and Galway events are free of charge and only a small number require pre-booking.

Creating a dramatic effect in Carlow

Carlow is putting itself on the cultural map with a big and bold new arts centre featuring a huge new gallery space as well as the sumptuous 355-seater George Bernard Shaw Theatre

IT ALL GREW out of Éigse, the Carlow arts festival that’s now in its 30th year. Local enthusiasm fuelled a campaign for a permanent arts facility for the town and there was a parallel demand for a theatre to cater for its exploding population; Carlow had become another cog in the wheel of Dublin’s extended commuter belt.

The county and town councils commissioned a feasibility study by Murray O’Laoire in 2000 and, a year later, the Department of Arts, Sport and Tourism pledged €3.17 million from its Access scheme for a visual arts centre to be built in the grounds of Carlow College, formerly a Catholic seminary called St Patrick’s College.

The site was generously donated by the college – “we couldn’t have bought it”, says Carlow town clerk Joe Watters. College president Monsignor Caoimhín O’Neill, colloquially known as Father Kevin, was one of the leading lights in Éigse and he strongly supported the local authorities’ objective to create an arts centre.

An open international architectural competition, organised by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) in 2004, attracted 119 entries, producing a shortlist of three. But before they could be worked up into more detailed schemes, the Carlow councils decided to add a theatre. “We were thinking big,” Watters says.

And so, Carlow has acquired what will undoubtedly be an award-winning building by London architect Terry Pawson, who emerged as the winner of the 2004 competition. Built at a cost of €18 million, the Visual Centre for Contemporary Art and George Bernard Shaw Theatre will open next Saturday.

It is a measure of Carlow’s ambition that the new facility was to be called the National Centre for Contemporary Art, but this was dropped in favour of Visual because the local authorities didn’t want to be seen as having lost the run of themselves. Nonetheless, it includes what is probably the largest single gallery in Ireland.

Measuring 29m by 16m, and rising to a height of 11m, it was designed to provide an unrivalled space for showing large-scale contemporary art – unlike the pokey former soldiers’ rooms in the Irish Museum of Modern Art even after its renovation.

Certainly, the Carlow space is much larger than the main gallery of the Royal Hibernian Academy in Dublin’s Ely Place. It is also more stunning as a pure white box, lit by high-level translucent glazing on two sides. Entered through a 5m-high opening, the effect is awe- inspiring; one feels rather dwarfed by it all.

This spectacular space is approached from the centre’s Link Gallery, which serves as a hub for three white galleries, the main space and two smaller ones. Its walls are textured concrete, superbly made in situ by rough fibreboard shuttering to give the feeling – or at least the look – of “crushed velvet”, as Pawson describes it.

The Link Gallery is a half-level above the main foyer, with its long reception desk made from stained American white oak, which is also used for all the other timber elements in the building. It can also be screened off at night when only the George Bernard Shaw Theatre is in use.

A long window looks out on to a rectangular lake fringed by reeds and water lilies; one can imagine corporate receptions being held here. Red painted walls denote the theatre’s presence, to the left of the foyer. It was named after Shaw because he had given a parcel of properties to Carlow, having once spent a pleasant night there.

The sale of some of these properties near the peak of the boom helped the local authorities to fund the theatre. To be run by Róisín McGarr, it has 355 red-upholstered seats and has been designed for music, theatre and dance, as well as film screenings, literary readings and other events.

“The council had never run a significant art gallery or theatre, so there was quite a lot of learning to do,” Pawson says. “We brought in an art handling expert who wrote the brief for the Tate Gallery and theatre consultants from London, the US and Germany to help define what was needed in terms of facilities.”

The theatre is backed up by a large rehearsal space, green room, dressing rooms, showers and toilets for performers, oodles of basement storage space and a public bar for theatre goers. On the top floor is a spacious suite of offices large enough to accommodate a small army of arts administrators.

A café/restaurant with a fully-fitted kitchen is located at basement level, opening out on to a pleasant, west-facing terrace. Here, the two councils have commissioned a 9.5m stainless steel sculpture by Eileen McDonagh. The café itself, with a capacity of 70-plus (not including the terrace), will be Carlow’s largest.

The great triumph is Visual’s translucent glass façade, made from oblong panels almost 5m high. Their grey hue was intended to blend with the rendered front of Carlow College, which dates from 1793; Pawson originally proposed timber cladding, but the local authorities wanted something more special. The glass makes the building look opaque in the daytime, when it functions as an art gallery, although this is relieved by sunlight filtering through at the upper level, giving an ice-cube effect. After dark, diffused lighting in a metre-deep cavity behind the façade makes it glow like a lantern. This will be best seen in winter, as the building is set well back from the street behind some mature trees. High walls in front are now being replaced by period-style railings.

Pawson, who is now working on a new opera house for Linz, in Austria, finds similarities between Ireland and central Europe. Unlike British architecture’s celebration of structural engineering, what we have in common with Europe is a “celebration of space and volume”.

Pawson was a partner, for 15 years, of Keith Williams, who has won awards for his Athlone Civic Centre and Wexford Opera House (in association with the Office of Public Works). And in a way, there are echoes of Wexford in Carlow’s determination to build something big in what to many seems to be a rather unlikely location.

It will be up to Carissa Farrell, the former visual arts officer of Dublin’s Draíocht, to make it work. Showing visitors around in recent months, she says they were amazed by “the sheer bravery of the councils to go ahead with this” – not only paying for the building but pledging €2 million towards its running costs over three years.

Joe Watters insists that this is not a case of Carlow trying to best its old rival, Kilkenny, but rather building on its own strengths through Éigse. But with the Arts Council’s budget already cut and the McCarthy report’s baleful view of arts funding in general, it’s going to be a challenge to ensure that Visual doesn’t become a white elephant.

Irish Times

Gormley urged to ban export of incerator ash

Minister for the Environment John Gormley has been called on to ban the exportation of ash material produced from waste incineration in Ireland.

The Irish Waste Management Association (IWMA) said the country should manage the waste itself, which is likely to reach 250,000 tonnes over the next few years under current proposals. According the organisation, this would amount to the loss of a commodity worth over €20 million per year.

Waste generated by the proposed Poolbeg incinerator, which has a capacity of 600,000 tonnes per annum, is required to be exported under imposed planning conditions. Up 25,000 tonnes of the ash produced each year could be hazardous in nature.

The IWMA has written to Mr Gormley, urging him to discuss with Dublin City Council how this ash can be treated within Ireland.

“Exporting ash is wrong environmentally, economically and is totally unsustainable in the modern era. It also leaves us vulnerable under the law and increases costs to the consumer," said IWMA chairman Jim Kells.

"Instead of recognising the resource value of the ash, we are literally shipping money and jobs out of the country. We are imposing our waste on other countries and will remain completely reliant on these countries to continue accepting our ash. Germany has already banned this material from entering its borders. As we saw from the temporary collapse of the dry recyclables market last year, over-reliance on export routes can place a huge strain on our ability to function. It is imperative Ireland can manage what it produces."

Under a new Waste Framework Directive approved by Member States last November, countries could refuse to accept waste from neighbouring states under the principle that waste should be treated as close as possible to where it is produced.

"We are calling on the Minister for Environment to exercise his powers to create the regulatory certainty that will incentivise investment in the necessary treatment facilities and to allow us realise the benefits that can accrue from these exciting new developments," Mr Kells said.

"The Minister can make this happen and signalling a ban on ash exportation would be a good start."

Irish Times

Firm must pay €3.525m in development contributions

Eastground Investments Ltd, the company which recently secured planning permission to build a 325-bedroom hotel by the M1/M50 interchange near Dublin Airport, will have to pay a development contribution levy of €3.525 million to Fingal County Council.

The company lost an appeal to An Bord Pleanála in which it argued that it should not have to pay the charge in respect of the basement car-park. The board found otherwise. The underground car-park is designed to accommodate 469 cars.

Irish Times

Eirgrid gets permit for link

NATIONAL ELECTRICITY network operator Eirgrid yesterday got the green light for its planned €600 million power link between Wales and Ireland.

Eirgrid said that An Bord Pleanála has given it permission to build an interconnector between the east coast and north Wales that will transmit electricity between Britain and Ireland.

The interconnector will have the capacity to carry 500 megawatts of electricity, roughly the same amount as of that generated by a medium-sized power plant.

According to Eirgrid, this is enough power to supply 300,000 homes. The project will require an investment of €600 million. Its construction will create about 100 jobs and work will be finished in 2012.

The grid operator has hired Swedish company ABB to carry out the work. The firm manufactures cables, switches and most equipment needed by electricity transmission systems. It also designs and builds the systems itself.

The interconnector will link Deeside in north Wales and Woodland in Co Meath, where Eirgrid operates a substation. It will come ashore close to Rush, Co Dublin.

Eirgrid, a State agency, applied to An Bord Pleanála’s strategic infrastructure division for permission to build the interconnector. Eirgrid chief executive Dermot Byrne described the planning board’s decision as a major milestone, and added that the project will be delivered on time.

“As an island of five million people that is over 90 per cent dependent on imported fossil fuels for our energy, we have an immediate and pressing need to improve our security of supply, and to enhance our capacity to generate renewable energy. The east-west interconnector will help us do both,” he said.

Irish Times

Shell 'unhappy' with contempt ruling

A DISTRICT Court judge who recently ruled that Shell EP Ireland was in contempt of court was told yesterday the company was “very unhappy” with her judgment and wished it to be clarified by the High Court.

On September 4th last, Judge Mary Devins found Shell in contempt of a District Court order, issued in November 2007, prohibiting the company from carrying out exploratory works on the Rossport commonage in north Mayo. Sentencing, subject to conditions, was adjourned until yesterday’s sitting of Westport District Court.

The court order was originally made after Monica Muller, and 25 others, brought a case under Section 26 of the Gas Act 1976. They claimed they had not been served with proper notice of Shell’s intention to carry out the works. Part of the proposed modified pipeline route for the Corrib gas project runs through these lands.

Ms Muller, of Rossport South, took a civil action against the company, claiming it had breached the order on four different occasions.

At hearings last May and June, John Gordon, counsel for Shell, argued that the company had acquired a share in the commonage in the interim and had not entered the lands before advising Ms Muller of its new status. Evidence was also given that Shell had applied to An Bord Pleanála for compulsory acquisition orders (CAOs) for lands under the Gas Act 1976. In anticipation of these CAOs being granted, Shell said inspections of the lands were necessary.

However, it also emerged during the hearings that Shell had never sought to vacate the judge’s order.

Addressing Judge Devins yesterday, Mr Gordon said: “My clients are unfortunately very unhappy with the judgment of contempt and have instructed me to [give notice of an application] to state a case. This was filed in the District Court in Ballina this morning and served on Ms Monica Muller also this morning.”

The application was filed under the Summary Jurisdiction Act 1857 and the Courts Supplemental Provisions Act 1961.

Mr Gordon asked for an adjournment in order “to flesh out the issue”.

Marilyn McNicholas, counsel for Ms Muller, observed that while Shell’s application was filed under criminal law acts, the judge had found the company guilty of civil contempt. She also observed that Shell’s legal representative had not specified in the application on what point of law the judge had erred.

Judge Devins said her findings were based on “a technical contempt”. She noted that two of the conditions imposed on September 4th had been fulfilled. The court was told that a €3,000 fine had been paid by Shell to Ms Muller’s charity of choice, An Taisce’s planning unit, and that costs would be resolved between both parties.

Judge Devins adjourned the case for consideration of the legal minutiae of Shell’s application to the High Court and to address the fulfilment of the third condition imposed – an application by Shell to vacate her court order.

The case will be further heard at Westport District Court at 2pm on October 8th next.

Irish Times

Student residences proposed for €412m Irish Glass Bottle site

The most expensive site in the history of the state, the €412m Irish Glass Bottle site, could ultimately be used to house up to 1,000 third-level students.

The owners of the site in Poolbeg, Dublin, are understood to have expressed an interest in providing about 1,000 bed spaces in student residences for Trinity College Dublin (TCD) on part of the site. The site is owned by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), developer Bernard McNamara and retired property syndicator Derek Quinlan.

The site is facing a hefty writedown in value in the coming weeks after land prices fell 70% in the downturn. In addition, Bernard McNamara and his company Donatex are suing the DDDA in relation to interest payments on the site, where about €30m has been spent on decontamination. The first phase of the South Wharf site is to include one million square feet of office space and about 1,250 apartments.

TCD had initially signalled that it was looking for 1,000 student residential units by September 2010, and possibly as many as 3,500 by 2020.

However, when the tender was published it was changed to 1,000 bed spaces. A spokeswoman for Trinity College said "there has been a substantial response and the submissions are currently being evaluated".

The sites submitted must be located within a 30-minute peak-time commute of the college by a frequent public-transport system. Alternatively it must be located within 2.5km of TCD's campus.

In addition, each site should be large enough to accommodate a minimum of 350 student bed spaces unless they are within 500 metres of the main campus or the Trinity Hall student residences in Dartry, south Dublin. In that case the minimum requirement for the site reduces to 150 bed spaces.

The university may require the successful bidder to design, build, operate and maintain (DBOM) the new accommodation and associated facilities. "The project may also include the supply of a site or a site and existing buildings and the provision of finance for the proposed solution," the tender stated. The university is also considering using the DBOM with its own sites but this is unlikely to happen unless there are insufficient qualified candidates for the other options.

McNamara has built a number of the buildings within TCD's campus.

Sunday Tribune

Pierse Contracting in High Court action against Gannon Homes

Pierse Contracting has lodged a High Court action against Gannon Homes, the property development firm owned by Gerry Gannon.

The case is one of four High Court cases lodged against Gannon Homes this year. Gannon has also had a High Court action taken against him personally by Barina Construction, the building and con­struction company owned by Niall and Michael Langan.

Gannon, who has been named as one of the Anglo golden circle, is one of the biggest landowners in Dublin, with large holdings around Swords and Malahide. He has made a submission to Fingal county council about the former Belcamp college lands that he bought for over €100m. He also made submissions about land at Carrickbrack Road in Howth, at St Margaret's in Co Dublin, a site at Lusk and two sites in Swords. He sold Pierse a site at Clongriffin near Baldoyle where he is developing Ireland's largest residential scheme. Last year Gannon bought a 17.5-acre site near Kinsale from a company linked to Pierse Construction, according to the Companies Office.

Sunday Tribune

Ballymun scheme gets go ahead to generate 2,000 jobs

Up to 2,000 construction jobs are to be created next year by Real Estate Opportunities (REO), the listed property vehicle majority owned by Treasury Holdings, after objections to its €800m mixed-use development in Ballymun were dropped.

The scheme, known as Spring Cross, is to be developed in phases on a 15-acre site close to Ikea, the M50 and Dublin Airport and REO expects it to support 8,500 direct and indirect jobs when it is completed.

The Railway Procurement Agency and rival developer Brian O'Farrell's Northside shopping centre had initially objected to the granting of planning permission but the appeals have since been dropped.

Treasury Holdings director of development Niall Kavanagh said he expects the development to cost up to €400m to construct and that it will be done in nine or 10 phases with the shopping centre and leisure blocks developed first. Tesco anchors the shopping centre currently on the site.

Construction will start after pre-lets have been agreed but Kavanagh is hopeful of being on site by the end of next year. A metro north station will be built in the basement of the centre, which should ensure strong footfall for retailers based there. REO is in advanced negotiations with a large international cinema operator interested in signing up for the leisure element of the scheme.

"Regeneration is where it's at," said Kavanagh, adding that the company was hopeful of attracting people who had spent part of the day at Ikea to the centre.

Sunday Tribune

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Irish Planning Institute visits the Aviva Stadium

Along with other members of the Dublin Branch of the Irish Planning Institute, yesterday I visited the fast-progressing Aviva Stadium project at Lansdowne Road.

The project team provided a discussion of all of the planning issues involved in the scheme to date and followed this with a tour of the construction site.

The complexity of the planning issues suggests the project was lucky to get off the ground. At appeal stage, the An Bord Pleanála Inspector recommended a refusal of planning permission mainly on the basis that there was a better site in the city (the now controversial glassworks site). Thankfully, the Board overruled the recommendation and, like Dublin City Council at local level, it granted planning permission.

Since the granting of permission, the project has progressed quickly, but not without its difficulties. For example, the project team has had to work with Iarnród Éireann to complete demolition and re-building works with respect to the DART and mainline train line and there have been five follow-up applications – each required to address the complexity of this scheme. The last application is for stadium signage.

Both the planning process undertaken and the tour illustrate just how physically tight the site is. This is not a Wembley Stadium with large swathes of open space surrounding it, but a local stadium tied into the urban grain. A stadium set within a community. This community appears to have been treated well by the project team, but when standing high in the new stands and looking down on adjoining houses, it is easy to understand why the proposed stadium upgrade raised local concerns.

New entrances and accesses to the stadium are being provided through the areas surrounding the stadium. These will address access and exit issues which arose with the old Lansdowne Road stadium. In terms of making a safe exit, it will be possible, in an emergency, to empty the stadium in 16 minutes.

Work completed to date is impressive with the shape and design of the stadium now clear and sufficient finishing materials are in place to lend an impression of what the final article will look like. Standing in a Corporate Box you (almost) wish you worked for a bank. Work on the stadium roof steel is virtually complete and soon the spectacular roof frame will support itself.

From my experience of the tour, it is clear that players, press and spectators will be treated to an excellent facility with everything a modern stadium should have.

The project is on schedule and I look forward to trying to get tickets for the first game held in the Aviva Stadium.

Thanks to the Aviva Stadium project team for the talk and tour and to the Dublin Branch for organising this fieldtrip.

Brendan Buck

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Architects who are feeling the pinch need to plan for future

Most architectural practices have suffered a slump in revenue of 40 per cent or more over the past two years

ARCHITECTS WERE the first professionals to be hit by the recession, with new projects drying up due to the downturn in construction. According to estimates by their own institute, the RIAI, 42 per cent of those employed during the economic boom are now redundant.

Most architectural practices have been forced to shed staff, in many cases by well over 50 per cent, while those who remain have had to take huge pay cuts – with a 20 per cent reduction in salaries for employees not uncommon and double that for partners seeking to save their firms.

Derek Tynan, partner in DTA Architects, said that’s why they took “huge offence” over remarks made by Tánaiste Mary Coughlan in July that architects were among the professionals who had yet to feel the “chill winds of economic reality” – and cut their fees accordingly.

“She was talking about people who have lost half their work, let go more than half their staff and taken huge cuts in their salaries,” he said, adding that the old days of charging a 6 per cent standard fee had “gone since the mid-1990s”, at the very outset of the boom.

In any case, with building tenders down by as much as 30 per cent from their peak in 2006, architects’ fees have been reduced correspondingly. On top of that, by Government direction, they have had to take a further 8 per cent cut for all public sector projects. Most architectural practices have suffered a slump in revenue of 40 per cent or more over the past two years.

“We’re caught in a classic pincer movement, with public sector projects put on hold and few private sector projects proceeding because of the state of the market.”

Another leading architect, who did not wish to be identified due to fears about undermining confidence in his practice, said he had three major social housing projects and two schools on hold, while the private sector work being commissioned was all “small-scale stuff”.

A third architect, who has been in practice since the 1980s recession, said the precarious financial position of many firms was made worse by public-sector clients not paying fees for work done.

“We’re owed €100,000 by a local authority – and they don’t even reply to letters.”

The banks are also blamed for aggravating the problems faced by architects as small or medium-sized enterprises – by refusing, for example, to honour a cheque in favour of the Revenue to meet a tax bill until the sum involved was covered by an equivalent lodgement.

Having to let good staff go has been traumatic for architects, many of whom would have had built up a multicultural team in their offices during the boom. “It’s been personally upsetting for us to tell people we liked and worked with that they’d have to go,” Mr Tynan said.

Many of the foreign nationals who worked here as architects have either returned home or gone somewhere else to work, while hundreds of mainly younger Irish architects laid off by firms are on the dole or scratching around for work doing domestic extensions.

The main regret among seasoned architects now running slimmed-down practices is the loss of such a large chunk of the skills base built up during the boom – even as the value of those skills is still being recognised by numerous awards for projects already completed.

“Young architects who are married with a child or two and a mortgage to pay are going through a really tough time,” said Alan Mee, who runs a small practice and lectures in urban design at UCD. “After producing such a great culture, there’s a lot of bitterness out there, I suspect. Psychologically, it’s really unsettling because there is no version of a few years time that’s in any way clear at all.

“What’s the future client base for a small practice? It’s completely unknowable, so there is no clarity on which to base a business plan, least of all in terms of fees.”

He said the boom “made people think that a small architectural practice could feed itself forever, but this was an illusion”. Architects were now diversifying “very quickly”, doing building energy ratings, urban design, conservation, sustainability, writing more or teaching.

“There is a resilience among architects, a belief that they have a real contribution to make – not least in relation to the direction of any social dividend that might arise in the working through of Nama by providing masterplanning and urban design skills,” Mr Tynan said.

They are unanimous on one issue: now is the time to build, because construction costs are so low. “Instead of behaving like a rabbit in headlights, Government, State agencies and local authorities should be gathering their guts to build for the future,” as one architect put it.

Irish Times

Bird's-eye view reveals extent of work to come

FROM THE ground the new M3 motorway looks, for the most part, finished. Sections are indeed complete, with motorists already using interchanges and bypass roads, particularly at the southern end, and it’s hard to believe that it won’t be open to traffic for almost another year.

From the air, though, it’s a different story. The Irish Times was yesterday taken on an aerial tour of the route, one of several helicopter flights taken by the National Roads Authority (NRA) each year to monitor the progress of the road.

Just over the Dublin-Meath border where the road begins at Clonee, it looks ready to use, with a black asphalt surface already laid in places. Moving north towards Kells, heavy machinery, diggers and cranes continue to work on long stretches on what appear to be the basic outlines of junctions and interchanges.

Certain features are identifiable along the route. At almost the mid-point, the Hill of Tara can be seen about 2km to west. A little closer to the east is the Hill of Skryne, on which the remains of a medieval church are clearly visible.

From ground level on top of the Hill of Tara, the new road cannot be discerned. The current N3 is visible, but the new motorway will be slightly further away and the NRA says it will not be visible from Tara. However, no cars currently travel the motorway and there is no lighting, which might in time make the road more apparent from the hill.

The proximity of the motorway to the Rath Lugh hill fort is far more stark. The road does not go through the fort, but skirts it incredibly closely, to the extent that a “crib wall” has been constructed against the fort wall to secure the earthen structure.

The road also skirts the national monument at Lismullin. As this site has already been preserved and covered by a farm access road, nothing remains to be seen.

Irish Times

Contentious M3 is 90% complete, says NRA

THE CONTROVERSIAL M3 motorway in Co Meath, which has been the subject of several years of protests, is now almost 90 per cent complete, the National Roads Authority (NRA) has said.

At almost 60km of main motorway and a further 40km of link roads and interchanges, the it is one of the longest motorways under construction in Europe.

The M3 is not scheduled to open until July 2010. Work could still finish ahead of this scheduled date, but not before mid-spring next year, the NRA said.

Beginning at Clonee, north of the Dublin-Meath border, it runs to Kells where it switches to a motorway-grade dual carriageway for the last 10km to the Cavan border. It will have two toll booths, charging €1.40 for cars. Dunshaughlin, Navan and Kells are bypassed along the route.

Controversially, the route runs just over 2km from the Hill of Tara, and adjacent to the Lismullin national monument and the hill fort of Rath Lugh.

Protesters have occupied these latter two sites, blocking the road’s construction at various times in recent years, most memorably in March last year when conservationist Lisa Feeney, known as “Squeak” shut herself inside a chamber at the bottom of a 33-foot tunnel at Rath Lugh for 60 hours.

No protesters are currently blocking or picketing any part of the motorway, and Vincent Salafia of Tarawatch said that such action is unlikely to recur. “The frontline part of the campaign is pretty much over. There are people still protesting in the area, but not on the front line of the road. At this stage any protest on the road would be a largely symbolic gesture, but that doesn’t mean the campaign is over.”

Recent changes to the criminal trespass laws had made such protests more difficult, Mr Salafia said, but he said Tarawatch was continuing to campaign against the road and hoped it might still be moved, even after its construction.

Moving the road would be a possibility particularly if the Hill of Tara received Unesco World Heritage designation, Mr Salafia said. Tarawatch was also continuing to bring complaints against the NRA to EU bodies in relation to the destruction of ancient archaeology and heritage.

Mr Salafia has criticised the cost to the taxpayer of the motorway. He said this will amount to €727.4 million over the life of the toll contract with Eurolink, which ends in 2052.

However, NRA spokesman Seán O’Neill said Mr Salafia’s claims were a distortion of the facts. The road would cost about €720 million if Eurolink had not been involved and the cost was borne entirely by the State. “In fact only €250 million is being paid up front; the rest of the cost is being borne by the contractor . . . Distorting the figures doesn’t benefit the public, what benefits the public is the construction of a new, safe, value for money motorway.”

Irish Times

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

New Luas section is right on track as it passes its first test

THE first Luas trams ran through Dublin's docklands yesterday -- but it will be months before there are passengers on board.

Test runs were carried out on the first of a series of extensions to the light rail line.

The service, from Connolly station to the O2 arena, is expected to be up and running by the end of the year.

The tests on this section passed off without any glitches and caused great excitement among residents, Railway Procurement Agency (RPA) spokesman Tom Manning said.

However, despite causing a stir among rail fans, no passengers are allowed on board during the test phase.


"We've been delighted with it. It's given us an opportunity to test the clearance between the trams and the track," Mr Manning said.

"It's the first run on it and we will be doing more tests over the coming months so it's a major milestone for us."

An exact opening date for the €90m extension to the Luas Red Line through the docklands has not being confirmed yet. However, RPA officials are hoping to cut the ribbon before the end of the year. Work is also progressing on a number of other Luas and Metro projects at Citywest, Cherrywood, Bray/Fassaroe, Broombridge and Lucan, as well as the Metro North and Metro West.

Mr Manning said: "Well over 50pc of the work in any of these is at the design and planning stages. To progress them, we have to do a significant amount of design work and public consultation.

"A huge amount of work goes on behind the scenes before the first shovel goes into the ground," he added. The Luas Docklands extension will be the first of them to be completed.

A number of important works have been finished in recent weeks, including the positioning of all the electrical power cables.

Under Transport 21, it was envisaged that the extension would add an extra three million trips to the Luas network by 2016.

However, the new track will come on line just as the tram system is experiencing a fall-off in passenger numbers.

Breda Heffernan and Stephen O'Farrell

Irish Independent

Divisive gaelscoil project hit with fresh planning difficulty

PLANS for a new gaelscoil which have split a community on Cork’s northside have been hit with another planning difficulty.

City manager Joe Gavin told councillors last night that the amount of land at the Tank Field earmarked for the construction of a new Gaelscoil an Gort Alainn building has to be reduced.

If the project proceeded as planned, it would have meant that Brian Dillon GAA club pitches due to be built on the rest of the Tank Field would have had goalposts located under high tension electricity wires.

Mr Gavin said following lengthy discussions, the only solution was to reduce from 2.44 acres to two acres, the amount of land available for the school.

The Department of Education has advised that the smaller site is adequate for the school, he said.

And the department has been advised that the reduction in land would not be a material change and the current planning permission can be acted upon. The department has asked the council to confirm this position.

Mr Gavin told councillors that the only issue before him now is to determine whether or not the reduction in land for the school requires another planning application, or whether it can proceed as planned.

Fine Gael councillor Jim Corr urged Mr Gavin to get the best possible advice on the matter.

Mr Gavin also agreed to a request from Fianna Fáil’s Tim Brosnan to meet residents both supporting and opposing the gaelscoil project.

The gaelscoil project has been one of the most divisive planning issues in the city for years.

Councillors decided as far back as 2005 to sell at an agreed price, and subject to planning, a 2.3 acre portion of the 11-acre Tank Field site to the Department of Education, which had sought planning permission for a new building for the gaelscoil.

But a massive local campaign was mounted to block the project. Opponents wanted to fight the loss of the local amenity which was zoned for sports use.

Councillors voted 15-13 in late 2007 to rezone a portion of the site to allow the school project proceed but because a two-thirds majority was needed, the rezoning did not go ahead.

However, in April 2008, an Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the school.

The department wants to build a 16-classroom school for the gaelscoil which has been accommodated in prefabs since it opened 16 years ago.

Mr Gavin is expected to make his decision on the issue within three weeks.

Irish Examiner

Buildings and landscapes threatened by rising sea levels, conference told

ICONIC Irish landscapes and buildings are threatened by rising sea levels due to climate change, an international conference in Dublin has heard.

Environment Minister John Gormley warned climate change was the most far-reaching challenge to humanity globally and nationally.

Mr Gormley was opening the 13th international conference of national trusts. More than 200 representatives from trusts worldwide are attending the conference, hosted by An Taisce, that will run until Thursday.

This country, Mr Gormley added, had signed up to legally binding targets under the Kyoto protocol and the Carbon and Energy Package agreed by the EU last December.

The minister said proposed climate change legislation would include specific provisions on climate change adaptation.

He said work was well under way on the development of a national adaptation framework and he hoped to publish it by the end of the year.

Simon Molesworth, chairman of the International National Trusts Organisation, said conservation was a vital strategy in addressing climate change. He warned time was against us and it was critical world leaders listen and put solid measures in place at a special UN conference on climate change in Copenhagen next December to protect our heritage for future generations.

Eamon Hayes, a 16-year-old transition year student from Ballina, Co Tipperary, delivered a keynote address and said it was obvious many adults pay no attention to preserving our natural resources and the environment.

"Melting ice caps, spreading deserts and flooding may seem like far away problems but if we don’t take action now they will be a reality for every citizen of this world in generations to come.

"Do you want your legacy to be a damaged world that you pass onto my generation and the generation after me?" he asked.

Irish Examiner

Planning permissions fall 35%

The number of planning permission granted for new dwelling units fell more than 35 per cent in the second quarter of 2009, new figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO) showed today.

Permission was granted to build 12,831 dwellings between April and June, a 35.7 per cent fall compared with 19,942 units for the same period in 2008.

Only 7,739 houses were given permission in the three-month period. A year earlier, 12,598 houses got planning permission - a difference of 38.6 per cent. More than 2,200 of these were one-off houses, accounting for 17.4 per cent of permissions granted.

The number of planned apartments also fell, with only 5,092 units applied for during that time. In comparison, 7,344 units were applied for in 2008, indicating a decrease of 30.7 per cent year on year.

The number of planing permissions for new buildings for agriculture fell to 181 from 442 a year earlier.

In total, 6,756 planning permissions were granted for all developments, a fall of 39.8 on the previous year's figure of 11,215.

Irish Times

Planning permissions fall 35%

The number of planning permission granted for new dwelling units fell more than 35 per cent in the second quarter of 2009, new figures from the Central Statistic Office (CSO) showed today.

Permission was granted to build 12,831 dwellings between April and June, a 35.7 per cent fall compared with 19,942 units for the same period in 2008.

Only 7,739 houses were given permission in the three-month period. A year earlier, 12,598 houses got planning permission - a difference of 38.6 per cent. More than 2,200 of these were one-off houses, accounting for 17.4 per cent of permissions granted.

The number of planned apartments also fell, with only 5,092 units applied for during that time. In comparison, 7,344 units were applied for in 2008, indicating a decrease of 30.7 per cent year on year.

The number of planing permissions for new buildings for agriculture fell to 181 from 442 a year earlier.

In total, 6,756 planning permissions were granted for all developments, a fall of 39.8 on the previous year's figure of 11,215.

Irish Times

Monday, 14 September 2009

Traders oppose reopening main street

TRADERS ON Sligo’s main street are almost unanimously opposed to the plan to reopen the pedestrianised street to traffic, it has emerged.

Campaigners have urged members of Sligo Borough Council not to proceed with the plan, saying the “vast majority” of the public is opposed to it. The street was pedestrianised three years ago.

Mayor of Sligo Cllr Jim McGarry has indicated that traffic will be back on the main street by Christmas – a move that has the backing of all elected members on the council.

However, Gerry Conway, of the O’Connell Street Traders’ Association, said that all but two of the 30 or so businesses on the street had signed a petition asking that it remain pedestrianised. He urged councillors to rethink the issue, saying that traders had not been consulted. He believes councillors are abandoning “a vision for Sligo” and putting nothing in its place.

Séamus Kealy, director of the Model Arts Centre in Sligo, who has been a strong critic of the councillors’ plan, said 2,000 people had signed a petition urging councillors not to reopen O’Connell Street to traffic. While it was being presented as a fait accompli, members of the public still had a right to make submissions on the new draft development plan and to have their say on whether pedestrianisation should be dropped, he said.

A spokeswoman for Sligo Borough Council confirmed that submissions on any aspect of the draft Sligo and Environs Development Plan 2010 to 2016 can be received until Wednesday, September 16th.

By Friday, 20 submissions had been received on the O’Connell Street issue, she said, but given that the bulk of submissions are normally received close to deadline, this figure could change considerably.

Last May members of the council voted unanimously to direct the county manager to reopen the street to traffic, saying that the €4.5 million estimated cost of environmental enhancement works would not be available in the foreseeable future. They also expressed concern about the impact of the current situation on residents in the east ward who, they said, had been cut off from the rest of the town.

Mr Conway said he did have sympathy with this community but believed that it should be possible for the engineers to come up with a solution without putting traffic back on O’Connell street. “Sligo could be another Kilkenny,” he said.

Mr Kealy said it would be “highly unusual” and a retrograde step to unpedestrianise an urban area, given the international experience that more green areas, urban pathways and walking spaces enhance public life while boosting tourism, civic health and economic diversity.

While there was room for further aesthetic improvements, it had taken four years to complete similar projects on Dublin’s Grafton Street and Shop Street, Galway, he said.

Mr McGarry said that the 12 elected members on the council supported the reopening of the street. They believed the people of the east ward had been “seriously disenfranchised” and that journeys which should take them five minutes now took up to 45 minutes.

Irish Times

Wheels start turning as city gets saddled up

THERE IS little evidence to prove the benefits of wearing a helmet while cycling, the councillor who initiated the capital’s new bike rental scheme has said.

After the launch of Dublinbikes yesterday morning, Labour councillor Andrew Montague said it was not essential that those hiring bikes in the capital wear safety helmets.

“We don’t have compulsory helmets in Dublin and I would not be overly concerned about cycling without a helmet,” he said.

Blue skies and warm sunshine contributed to what was a perfect day for the launch of the scheme.

Hundreds took advantage of the good weather to try out the 450 bikes now available to rent from 40 stations between the Royal and the Grand canals.

Cyclists can register online for annual membership using a credit card at a cost of €10 or can pay with a credit card at 14 of the stations for a three-day €2 ticket.

Rental is then free for half an hour and costs 50 cent for the first hour, rising to €6.50 for four hours. The bikes are available from 5.30am to 12.30am.

The scheme has been funded by advertising agency JC Decaux in exchange for the use of advertising space in the capital.

Mr Montague, who first proposed the scheme five years ago, said, with the removal of HGVs, Dublin was now a much safer place in which to cycle.

Asked whether helmets should be made available to those hiring the bikes, he said there was little evidence available on their benefits. “In Brisbane they made helmet-wearing compulsory and although the rate of accidents dropped and they thought it was a success, they realised it was because the rate of cycling had dropped by 50 per cent,” he said. “Helmets put people off.”

He said 80 per cent of cyclist deaths involved HGVs, especially those turning right, and “a helmet is not going to save you in that situation”. Mr Montague also said he envisaged the scheme being extended to the suburbs in years to come. “This is just the beginning as far as I’m concerned.”

More than 1,000 bike journeys were made in the first six hours of the scheme, a spokesman for Dublin City Council said last night. He said it now had more than 2,000 subscribers – an increase of 500 since Friday.

Out and about yesterday and wearing helmets were Roddie and Deirdre Aherne. “We’ve been all over the place,” Mr Aherne said. He would recommend the bikes and consider them for business.

Catherine O’Donovan found the bikes “female friendly”: “I don’t cycle, but I feel confident on it.”

She would consider picking up a bike at Pearse Street near where she lives and cycling to the Luas to commute to work. Ger O’Donovan said he would like to use the scheme. “I’m always wary of getting my own bike stolen,” he said.

Irish Times

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Arnotts €1bn shops scheme under threat

Concerns about revised proposals for Arnotts' €1bn Northern Quarter retail scheme have been raised by Dublin city planners.

Arnotts got the go-ahead last year for the massive redevelopment, which will be located in an area bounded by Henry Street, O'Connell Street, Abbey Street and Liffey Street.

However, An Bord Pleanála ruled that the project could only proceed if a planned 16-storey tower in the original design was omitted. In total, the board tagged on 26 separate conditions to its grant of permission, including the preservation of several protected buildings in the area.

Arnotts Properties Ltd then submitted its revised plans and the city council has now expressed reservations about the new blueprint.

Among the major changes being applied for is a redesign of the so-called Block A - from a seven-storey building over three basement levels, to an eight-storey building over three basement levels. This would increase the over-ground height of the tower from 18m to 31.5m.

Arnotts is proposing to increase the overall ground floor area of the scheme from 125,864sq m to 128,726sq m.

In a request for additional information, city planners have asked the applicant to submit a further architectural justification and revised drawings for the 'proposed retention of the Chapters Bookstore facade in Block A1 facing onto Abbey Street.

'The applicant is advised to note that the planning authority has concerns regarding how the retention of this facade sits within the context of proposed scale and welcomed simplicity of the grid framed retail store', they said.

In addition, Arnotts has been requested to redesign the facade fronting onto Henry Street, having regard to 'the building's location in a sensitive streetscape and the building's role in framing/defining the entrance onto Princes Street North'.

Commenting on the revised plans, Kevin Duff of An Taisce pointed out the proposed modifications include the location of a primary building fronting onto Middle Abbey Street, at the corner of Upper Liffey Street.

"These modifications entail a significant change to the height and design of the proposed development in this area," said Mr Duff - who added the revisions "depart excessively" from the plans approved by An Bord Pleanála.

He added - "(The) proposed overall height of this part of the development now closely matches its height as approved .... by Dublin City Council and as subsequently significantly reduced by An Bord Pleanála."

Arnotts must respond to the council's request for further information within six months.

Irish Times

Transport chiefs appointed

Gerry Murphy has been appointed chief executive designate of the Dublin Transport Authority (DTA).

Former Dublin city manager John Fitzgerald has been appointed chairman.

The new agency will have a broad range of responsibilities, including managing congestion and regulating public transport providers in the capital. It will also be in charge of funding for major transport projects and for the provision of an integrated ticketing system.

While conceived to better co-ordinate transport planning in Dublin, Minister for Transport Noel Dempsey is keen for the agency to have a national remit. Once the DTA has been formally established, by the end of the year, the Minister plans to bring forward the Public Transport Regulation Bill to give it a nationwide remit.

This means it will be responsible for commercial bus route licensing and the allocation of public transport subventions nationally. It will also oversee local and county development plans.

The Commission for Taxi Regulation and Dublin Transport Office are to be subsumed into the new body with a number of functions currently carried out by the department, transferred.

Mr Murphy is a qualified engineer and was appointed chief executive of the Grangegorman Development Agency in June 2007. He was previously involved with the National Roads Authority and in the project management of Dublin Port Tunnel.

Mr Fitzgerald currently chairs the GDA, An Post and the Limerick Regeneration Agency.

Irish Times

Green light for ‘social dividend’ clause

The Green Party has secured government support for a new ‘social dividend’ clause in the Nama Bill, giving schools, hospitals and community projects ‘‘first refusal’’ on land acquired from developers that are in default.

The measure is one of several changes designed to smooth the way for Green Party members to support the Nama proposal in a ballot next month.

An Oireachtas inquiry into the banking crisis is likely to be set up in January after the bad bank legislation has been finalised, according to some sources.

Party leader John Gormley and communications minister Eamon Ryan are making the case to their members for Nama as ‘‘an opportunity to bring better planning to national development’’.

The social dividend clause would give state and community projects first refusal on sites at market value and this would ‘‘lead to better and cheaper planning’’, said Ryan.

‘‘One of the developments at committee stage – and I think we’ll see it – is the offer of first refusal for public use in the development of the land. It will still be a fair price for the land but not an inflated price as has been paid in the past by the state."

Ryan said that ‘‘developers inflated land prices when they knew the state wanted to purchase it for developing projects’’ in the past. He was speaking as the Green Party membership met yesterday in the Sheraton Athlone Hotel to consider a range of changes to the draft bill.

Sunday Business Post

Developer lodges application for €85m south Dublin development

Builder P Elliott and Company has lodged a 10-year planning application for an €85m development in Stepaside, Co Dublin.

The application, which is currently being considered by Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council, includes proposals for the construction of 422 residential units including a mix of two-, three- and four-bed semi-detached houses and 220 apartments spread over 11 blocks ranging from three to five storeys in height. A former farmhouse called Dun Gaoithe will be demolished to make way for the new development.

Provision is also made for the construction of a neighbourhood shopping centre totally 6,405 square metres including a convenience retailer and a further 11 retail units; a pub; sports hall; restaurants; a crèche and a community club unit. In addition the plan includes provision for 810 parking spaces including a basement car park but with the majority located at surface level.

Sunday Tribune

Chartered Land to meet with council over controversial Dublin Central development

Developer Joe O'Reilly's Chartered Land, which is planning the €1bn Dublin Central retail development for O'Connell Street, is to meet planning officials and Dublin city councillors to outline its plans for some of the buildings at Moore Street.

The move comes after independent councillor Nial Ring tabled a motion that the council "will not facilitate a proposal to build on and demolish part of the national monument at Moore Street through the disposal of public property or closure of city streets and lanes". The motion has now been amended by councillors to delete the reference to "the disposal of public property or closure of city streets and lanes". Ring did not return a call seeking comment.

Campaigners have been trying to stop O'Reilly demolishing the buildings at Moore Street, which they say played a key part in the 1916 Rising.

O'Reilly applied in recent weeks to buy the "fee simple estate or any other intermediate interest" in several properties in the area, including 4-5 Moore Street, which is part of the Dublin Central plan.

An Bord Pleanála has told Chartered Land to redesign and omit aspects of the scheme but left the size of the retail element largely unchanged. British department store John Lewis is due to anchor the scheme, which includes the Carlton cinema site.

An enforcement issue in relation to the cinema site was raised in recent weeks.

"Dublin city council did serve an enforcement notice on the owners and occupiers of the property in relation to the elevational treatment of signage to the front of the Carlton site," said a council spokeswoman. "The parties have met with our planning department with a view to agreeing a more satisfactory treatment of the signage. These changes will be the subject of a planning application which the city council has yet to receive."

Sunday Tribune