21 December, 2006

High Rise in Suburbia

Ahh, lads. You can't be serious. This is the latest high-rise proposal for Booterstown. I was just getting used to the madness of knocking down the Tara Towers Hotel and replacing it with a twenty five story building when along comes this proposal for the old Shell Garage on the Rock Road. It's 'town cramming' as far as I'm concerned, these attempts to shoe-horn massive developments onto suburban sites where the context is two storey semi-detached housing.

I'm all in favour of increasing densities but these recent Planning Applications are over the top. Even the ducks on Booterstown Birdmarsh should be nervous at this stage. Here's my release on the issue.

Hopefully the High Buildings Study being undertaken by Urban Initiatives will shed some light on the issue of suitable heights and densities. We'll see what Kelvin and his team come up with. I'd be happy to increase densities around fixed-line public transport stops, but I'm worried that it's a bit of a free-for-all on every suburban corner site at the moment. Design, as always is crucial on these sites, but no amount of good design can dissipate the anger that many feel at watching proposals for ten or fifteen storey buidings popping up in the next door neighbour's garden!


Anonymous said...

Havnt seen your green councillors bringing in a variation of the devlopment plan to bring back height restictions despite all the talk from them pre 2004?

Ciarán said...

Perhaps not, but I did make a submission to the consultants carrying out the Building Height Study for Dún Laoghaire - Rathdown.

You might like to have a read...

Submission by Ciarán Cuffe TD Green Party to Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council regarding “A Study of Building Height”

10th November 2006

The decision to seek advice on a strategic approach to building height across the County is welcomed.

The Party is concerned that the terms of reference for this study appear not to have been brought before the Council for consideration prior to the initiating this study. Given the influence of the DEGW Report ‘Managing Intensification and Change A Strategy for Dublin Building Height’ over significant decisions on considering Planning Applications for taller Buildings in Dublin City it would have benefited to have an input from elected representatives prior to commissioning the Study.

The Study should be brought before the Council in draft form prior to completion. The Council should then consider amending or varying the County Development Plan to reflect the views of the Council on the Study’s recommendations.

The move towards higher density development is welcome, but such development needs to provide clear benefits for the existing population as well as the occupants of the buildings themselves.

There is significant concern amongst the population of the County concerning recent Planning Applications for tall buildings. Many define tall buildings as being structures only one story higher than the existing buildings in that area.

Taller buildings raise significant concerns about infrastructure, particularly transportation. Without a significant investment in public transportation, tall buildings will place significant pressure on the existing environment.

Significantly tall buildings would need to be of exemplary and outstanding design quality to merit consideration. Tall buildings, particularly those with office use can become ‘vertical cul-de-sacs’ that add little to the social fabric of the areas where they are located.

Tall buildings may also present environmental difficulties as they generally intensify wind speeds at ground floor level, and thus present difficulties that are exacerbated for children, older persons, or those with mobility impairments.

Taller buildings should be placed so as not too significantly overshadow or overlook existing buildings. As moves to maximise solar energy through the use of exterior water panels or other devices increases, the placing of taller buildings may reduce the light and potential energy capture of existing or other buildings.

A proposal for significantly taller buildings require carefully consideration in existing residential areas, as such buildings can reduce the amenity value to existing residents.

Any proposal to allow for significantly taller buildings should be considered in conjunction with other Dublin Local Authorities, and a coherent master-plan for any such buildings should be prepared to reflect the views of all communities in the greater Dublin Area.

Taller buildings should only be considered for locations that have excellent availability of public transport and will need to demonstrate that the users will favour public transport, walking or bikes for their mobility requirements.

Any proposal for taller buildings should favour mixed-use development.

The Study may seek to establish minimum and maximum building densities and / or height is particular areas.

Getting the balance right is a challenge for the County. While conceding that many existing settlements are built at low densities (such as the one and two story developments and surface car-park in Stillorgan) there is widespread concern at the emergence of Planning Applications for buildings that are ten stories high or more in such locations.

There is significant scope for increasing building densities through good design, rather than through maximising building heights.

Ciarán Cuffe, November 2006