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Dublin City Council says it's NOT planning to demolish historic housing blocks

Concern was raised last week that a number of protected structures designed by Herbert Sims would be demolished.

Chancery Park is one of many protected structures designed by Herbert Simms.
Chancery Park is one of many protected structures designed by Herbert Simms.
Image: Aoife Barry

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL says it has not planned to demolish or delist any of the protected housing complexes in Dublin designed by notable city architect Herbert Simms.

It was reported last week that Dublin City Council’s (DCC) housing and strategic policy committee were meeting to discuss plans for the regeneration and development proposals for its apartment complexes. As part of the plans, it was suggested that blocks dating back to the 1930s and designed by Herbert Simms could possibly be delisted and demolished.

But now in a post on the Dublin City Council’s City Architects’ blog, it is clarified that DCC has no plans to demolish any protected blocks.

The blog post says:

Dublin City Council has not planned the demolition of any of the blocks designed by Herbert Simms (aside from those already being redeveloped as part of the Teresa’s Gardens regeneration programme) nor planned de-listing of these blocks and there is no current suggestion of changing this position.’

The post also notes that to facilitate the Teresa’s Gardens regeneration (which is a Simms-designed complex), 60 units in two flat blocks were refurbished for interim use into 56 apartments, while the build takes place for 54 new proposed homes.

Protected Structures

Many of the complexes in the plans included buildings from the 1930s and 1940s under the design of Dublin city architect Herbert Simms. A number of them are protected structures.

Simms was appointed as city architect for the Dublin Corporation in 1932. He designed around 17,000 dwellings at a time when slums were a huge issue for the capital.

In its report on the regeneration and development proposals for its apartment complexes, DCC said it was seeking to develop a strategy to regenerate its complexes that are over 40 years old and to build more and better public housing.

But fears were raised that the plan would lead to complexes that are on the Record of Protected Structures delisted and demolished.

When concerns were raised last week, Green Party Councillor Ciaran Cuffe told TheJournal.ie that he thought the proposed plans were insulting to the communities that live in the protected buildings.

If the State can’t take care of older buildings, how can it expect private owners to do so? All this requires is a bit of joined-up thinking between different Government departments.’

The council currently has over 6,000 apartments that were built more than four decades ago. It says that because of this, any regeneration programme would have the potential to be the largest such programme in the state.

Across the 6,391 units within 109 flat complexes that were built from the 1930s onwards, approximately €30m is spent annually on the “reactive maintenance” of them.

The DCC Housing Department presented a further report to the SPC meeting last week which focused on financing options.

Case by case

In the blog post by DCC,  it outlined that none of the buildings currently proposed for demolition are protected structures.

Where demolition is proposed, the new project can generally provide on average 25% more dwellings than before. Where retrofit is proposed, the aim is to achieve better layouts and better standards.”

It also added that the council is planning a case-by-case assessment of each site in conjunction with elected members and residents.

It said all options, including retrofit, additional new-build within a site or demolition and redevelopment should be considered.

DCC claims that each project will have to go through public consultation and statutory planning application processes.

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