20 July, 2008

Clarence Hotel Decision

Thanks to Tom Cosgrave for the prompt.

Yep the planning approval for the Clarence gets my goat. Actually, the extra couple of floors that the Clarence got fifteen years ago annoyed me as well. Blame for that one can be laid at the door of Gay McCarron who was Dublin City Planning Officer at the time. One of the principle objections back then was that it would open the door to the future demolition of the four story buildings next door, and that's exactly what is happening.

One of the worst aspects of the current scheme is the emphasis on facade retention. It is not dissimilar to practicing taxidermy on a beautiful old friend while their heart is still beating. The Clarence is an attractive early 1930s building, and the buildings to the east are much older. They will all be subsumed into the scheme but are worthy of retention in their entirety. I didn't like the way the members of the City of Dublin Workingmen's Club which used to be located beside the Clarence were decanted into a new building off Capel Street. I also don't like the arguments that you hear time and time again about how hotels don't stack up commercially unless they double their number of bedrooms. Incidentally the Inspector felt that the building which housed the club was of regional importance on page 44 of his report.

I've argued this out with Laura Magahy when she was MD of Temple Bar Properties years ago, but the area's essential quality used to be its small scale-character, and time and again that was altered by planning decisions made by Temple Bar Properties, Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála. If Dublin does need a five star hotel with a flying saucer on top then maybe Docklands is the place for it, not Temple Bar.

The precedent of allowing facade retention of listed buildings (Protected Structures) is a dangerous one, and could open the floodgates for second-rate planning applications all over the country. The decision may refer to this as a "bespoke building of design excellence", but in my mind its open season . If you can't hold on to Protected Structure in a Conservation Area, then who knows where it will end? It's also worrying (and perhaps unprecedented?) that the Board's decision seems to diverge from the conservation advice given by the Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government

I'm also annoyed by the way the Boys went down the 'Starchitecture' route of choosing Norman Foster's firm for the job. It shows the same lack of design confidence that many cities (including Dublin) display when they opt for a Calatrava bridge. If Dublin City Council really cared that much about design they wouldn't allow replica Victorian litter bins (Did the Victorians use litter bins on their streets?) to be placed blocking the lighting on the south side of the James Joyce Bridge on the Quays. Instead of choosing architects like Kevin Roche, Norman Foster or Santiago Calatrava for projects in Dublin twenty or forty years after they've emerged on the world stage we should be choosing today's rising stars for these projects.


tomcosgrave said...

Hi Ciaran,

Thanks for a link and the good post. But the question is - can the Minister put a stop to it? If not, can he at least condemn it as a very poor decision?

Ciarán said...

There's a line in the sand between the Board and the Department given that An Bord Pleanála has a quasi-judicial role in these matters.

tomcosgrave said...

I feared that might be the case alright :-(

Hopefully he'll condemn it.

It really is an awful piece of architecture, a shocking piece of conservation policy and it is horrific that when the ABP planner can take it to pieces in his report, ABP can approve it anyway.

I'm starting to wonder what the point of ABP might be.

The Galway Tent. said...

Bono Elevated To Galway Tent

"[Bono's destruction of listed buildings] undermines ... the basis of the city's attractiveness for tourists".
- Bord Pleanala Inspector.
- Before His Execution.

The Purple & The Pinstripe.

The purple and the pinstripe
Mutely shake their heads

A silence shrieking volumes
A violence worse than the condemn

Stab you in the back yeah
Laughing in your face

Glad to see the place again
It's a pity nothing's changed

Four Seasons - The Ice Bar - Brickie Section.

Did you hear the honorable executive board of Bord Pleanala only enters The Clarence using the Revolving Doors? These days Billy Gates can't get a job 'cause the band ain't hiring. But as for friends of An Bord Pleanala'a executive board, the Revolving Doors are always open .... ?

This time the Clarence's bouncer tore off the head of the Bord Pleanala Inspector before he pissed down his neck. The little schijt had said His Holiness Bono and Monsignor The Edge would destroy Georgian Dublin with their hotel featuring Holiness Bono's halo up on the roof.

Holiness Bono is the true saint, not Geldof. Saint Bob with The Boomtown Rats only sang about The Banana Republic, and that was 1978. Bono & Co truly embody the spirit of The Banana Republic and are The Boomtown Rats. Bono's so 20th century, oh yeah. A modern girl yeah, ga-ga-ga-ga-ga.



Senior inspector's strong disapproval rejected

AN BORD Pleanála approved plans to redevelop the Clarence Hotel in Dublin despite a strong recommendation by one of its senior planning inspectors that permission be refused because of its "uncompromising, ominous and overstated" impact on the Liffey Quays.


* "a significant loss of historic streetscape [ which] would undermine the integrity of the Liffey Quays conservation area".
* conceptually brilliant but contextually illiterate
* sets an "undesirable precedent" for the demolition of protected structures generally.


Posted by The Galway Tent. on Friday, July 18, 2008

Ciaran said...

I agree, unless this decision is challenged in the courts it will set a terrible precedent. The law only allows permission to be granted for the demolition of protected structures in "exceptional circumstances". These are nowhere near "exceptional circumstances" and this development must be stopped by the courts.

Perhaps you & your buddies in the Oireachtas could legislate for the precise meaning of "exceptional circumstances" after the holidays.

btw, I see you got a dressing down from Mr O Leary in today's IT, slow travel, dear oh dear!