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Green light for apartment block complex on site of former Magdalene Laundry

The Crescent in Donnybrook Village accommodated between 100 and 120 women at any one time.

Flowers hang on the gates of the site of the former Magdalene Laundry in Donnybrook.
Flowers hang on the gates of the site of the former Magdalene Laundry in Donnybrook.
Image: Sam Boal/Rollingnews

PLANS BY THE Pembroke Partnership Ltd to construct an apartment block complex on the site of a former Magdalene Laundry in Donnybrook Dublin 4 have received the green light from An Bord Pleanála.

One of four to operate in Dublin, the Magdalene Laundry on the site at the Crescent in Donnybrook Village accommodated between 100 and 120 women at any one time.

In 2017 a previous 25 unit residential plan for the site was withdrawn and the applicants for the revised plan stated that a subsequent archaeological dig at the site uncovered no burials.

Now, the appeals board has granted planning permission to the Pembroke Partnership for 44 apartments in three three-to-four storey apartment blocks.

The appeals board has upheld a decision by Dublin City Council last year which granting planning permission.

However, the plan was placed on hold after Dr Brendan Tangney and others lodged an appeal.

Dr Tangney claimed that the development is not appropriate given the historical and social significance of the site.

The appeal also claimed that development in Donnybrook is being permitted in an ‘ad hoc/ piecemeal basis’ with no regard for proper planning or no coherent plan for the development area. 

laundries Source: Sam Boal

In response to the appeal, the Pembroke Partnership stated that careful consideration has been given to the social, cultural, historical and conservation significance of the site in the design of the proposed scheme. 

The applicants stated that the design approach is respectful of the site’s history and the structures of significance on site and the new development will successfully relate and integrate with those structures and the surrounding area. 

In her 31 page report on the appeal, appeals board inspector, Irené McCormack acknowledged that “the site has a controversial and sensitive history”.

McCormack stated that the use of the site as a Magdalen Laundry ceased in 1992, when it was sold to a private company and operated a commercial laundry until 2006.

McCormack found that the proposed development “is located within a culturally sensitive site and to this end the applicant has made significant efforts to acknowledge the sensitivity of the site and to record its history for posterity”. 

McCormack noted that former residents have been consulted and have engaged with the endeavours to record the history of the site.

magdalene Source: Sam Boal

laundries Pictured the lane way / wall beside the site of the former Magdalene Laundry in Donnybrook. Source: Sam Boal/Rolling News

She further concluded that the existing buildings on site are not protected, have been modified and adapted over the years and have outgrown their useful life expectancy. 

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She stated that the site has been vacant for 13 years and can no longer function with its original use, proposing a new function is inevitable in order to develop the site. 

Ms McCormack stated that the applicant is also proposing an art work installation on the site in acknowledgement of the former use. 

She stated that in addition to the art work installation within the site, “I consider it appropriate to erect a wall plaque on the front of building 03 acknowledging the history of the site”. 

Endorsing McCormack’s recommendation to grant planning permission, the appeals board has given the plan the go-ahead after finding that the proposal would provide for a strong and architecturally appropriate building on this site. 

The appeals board also found that the proposal “would not seriously injure the visual or residential amenities of the area or of adjoining property and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience”.

The Pembroke Partnership proposal plans to retain chimney stack on site. The stack is a protected structure and will be a prominent feature in the new residential development.

The stack was declared a protected structure in 2012 as a way of honouring the women who were forced to work at the Magdalene laundry.

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Gordon Deegan

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