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Proposal for 'visually dominant' advertising screen at Stephen's Green rejected

The application from Nightlight Screens Ltd was dismissed by Dublin City Council in July but appealed to An Bord Pleanála shortly after.

Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin
Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin
Image: Shutterstock.com

PLANS FOR A 14-metre LED advertisement at St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin have been rejected by An Bord Pleanála on the basis that it would “visually detract” from the Grafton Street area. 

The application from Nightlight Screens Ltd and supported by the shopping centre’s current owners Davy was dismissed by Dublin City Council in July but appealed to ABP shortly after. 

The application sought to install “full motion/dynamic content with regard to transitions, with new signage which displays a loop of static content separated by smooth transitions”.

It also argued that the signage was not dissimilar to standalone digital advertising panels located along streets in the surrounding area. 

In its ruling, An Bord Pleanála said the signage “would be visually dominant and would detract from the visual amenities and architectural character of surrounding built environment.”

“As a result, the proposed development would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area,” Senior Planning Inspector Jane Dennehy said. 

Large advertising screens have become staple attractions in many large cities across the world, including London’s Piccadilly Circus, Toronto’s Yonge and Dundas Square, and most famously, Times Square in New York. 

Grafton Street and surrounding streets in the city centre, however, were designated an architectural conservation area by Dublin City Council in 2006 in a bid to “protect and enhance its unique character”.

The Nightlight Screens Ltd application, which was submitted in March, sought permission for a 14.7 square metre display screen. It followed an earlier application by the centre’s previous owners, Irish Life Assurance PLC and Ventasker Ltd, to retain an existing 17.16 square metre screen when its licence expired in 2019.

It follows a similar application lodged last summer for a 20-foot LED sign at Bachelors Walk in Dublin City Centre to allow for new advertisements every 10 seconds which was also appealed to An Bord Pleanála. 

Advertisements at the corner of Bachelor’s Walk and O’Connell Street have been in place since 1964 and for many years advertised Baileys. 

Its owner, Declan Coleman, recently proposed removing it and altering LED panels below it with advertisements which could be changed remotely six times per minute. 

The proposal involved removing part the Coleman sign – which currently reads ‘Have a nice day’ – and altering a billboard below it to allow for LED advertisements every 10 seconds. 

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A number of objections were made before Dublin City Council refused permission in late June. 

The Board is due to make its decision on this application in the coming weeks. 

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