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Dublin: 6°C Thursday 21 October 2021

The ESB no longer has to restore Dublin's 'Georgian Mile'

A vote this evening amended the city’s Development Plan, removing a requirement to build a Georgian facade if the site is redeveloped.

The headquarters of the ESB.
The headquarters of the ESB.
Image: Sasko Lazarov/Photocall Ireland

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL have voted to remove a requirement for Dublin’s ‘Georgian Mile’ to be restored with a façade on Fitzwilliam Street, if the current headquarters of the ESB is redeveloped.

16 Georgian houses were demolished in 1965 to make way for the current building, which many councillors branded as ‘an act of vandalism’ this evening.

The city’s Development Plan previously stressed if the current building, designed by Sam Stephenson, was demolished, the street’s row of Georgian buildings should be restored.

Of the more than 60 submissions received on the topic, all but five were from members of the public.

“Urban design”

However, the plan now promotes “an exceptional urban design and architectural response in relation to any proposed redevelopment of the ESB Headquarters site on Fitzwilliam Street Lower, which respects and enhances the character and composition of the Georgian streetscape”.

The amendment was passed with a majority of two-to-one.

The proposed new design. (Image Credit: ESB)

Some councillors this evening argued that redevelopment like this would restore life into the South Georgian Core, highlighting that under submissions from the ESB, cafes and shops would be included in the new building.

Councillor Mannix Flynn warned that other parts of the city were becoming “dead zones”.

“If you go to Merrion Square at the moment you will die of loneliness,” he said.

When you go to North Great Georges Street, it’s alive. It’s a working, living street.

The original plan to introduce a façade was branded as Councillor Dermot Lacey as “Disney-esque”.

“This is a major stretch of a street that needs major architectural treatment,” he said, adding that it must meet the needs of a “modern city”.

World War II

However, Dr Bill Tormley noted that many buildings across Europe restored after damage sustained in World War II are copies of the original, stressing that what is seen on the outside is more important than the activities available inside.

Councillor Vincent Jackson also noted that many buildings around Dublin considered integral parts of the city were rebuilt after 1916 and the War of Independence.

Sam Stephenson, who passed away in 2006, also designed the iconic Central Bank building on Dame Street.

Previously: Restoration of Dublin’s Georgian Mile is ‘what the people want’ >

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Nicky Ryan

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