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Restoration of Dublin's Georgian Mile is 'what the people want'

The public have until the January 17 to submit their views on the proposed redeveloped of the ESB’s Fitzwilliam Street HQ.

The ESB HQ at Fitzwilliam Street.
The ESB HQ at Fitzwilliam Street.

THE PUBLIC HAS less than a week left to give their input on a redevelopment that campaigners say could set back the restoration of Dublin’s Georgian Mile by “two or three generations”.

The amendment would alter a plan by the council to encourage the construction of a Georgian façade on Fitzwilliam Street Lower, where 16 Georgian buildings were demolished in 1965 to make way for the current ESB Headquarters.

The amendment would instead “promote 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”.

Competition

The ESB previously held a competition for a redesign of the site, won by Grafton Architects and O’Mahony Pike Architects.

They say the new design is “respectful to its history, sensitive to its surroundings and representative of its own time”.

It will also be significantly more energy efficient than the current building.

However, one campaign believes “nothing less is acceptable” than the restoration of the buildings.

“Restore Fitzwilliam Street – Dublin’s Georgian Mile”, active for more than three months, says many other European cities, particularly those with bomb damage, have reintroduced impressive replications of original Georgian Buildings.

“The response to our Facebook page and from talking to people in the city is that the people want the houses restored,” a spokesman for the group told TheJournal.ie.

image

The proposed design. (Image Credit: ESB)

The Irish Georgian Society said public interest in the proposed redevelopment is a reminder that architecturally significant  buildings should be preserved.

“Almost fifty years after the demolition of 16 Georgian houses forming part of the ‘Georgian Mile’, the development of lands owned by the ESB on Lower Fitzwilliam Street is again the subject of significant and emotive public debate,” Executive Director Donough Cahill said in a statement.

Dublin’s Georgian Core is being considered as a candidate World Heritage Site and Dublin’s Georgian architecture is part of what gives Ireland its national identity.

However, the Society will not be making a submission ahead of the proposed change to the plan ahead of the “submission of a planning application for the proposed development”, although have not responded to further queries from TheJournal.ie on this by the time of publication.

The family of the architect of the current building, Sam Stephenson, have previously expressed that his 1976 construction should be respected.

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

Submissions or observations on the amendment can be submitted to Dublin City Council until the 17th of this month. Details are available here.

Watch: “The street was my playground” – A journey back to the tenement days >

Read: Georgian cellars and cobbled road found during Luas Cross City dig >

About the author:

Nicky Ryan

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