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Redevelopment of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre labeled a ‘monstrosity’



Redevelopment of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre labeled a ‘monstrosity’

The planned redesign of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is a ‘monstrosity’ and the council needs a ‘good dose of cop-on’, the Aontú leader has said, writes Ian Begley.

In recent days, permission was granted for the €100m redevelopment of the building at the top of Grafton Street, which will see its iconic glass dome and façade replaced.

Opened in 1988, its Victorian-inspired design made the centre a unique landmark in Dublin city.

However, an artist’s impression of the new plan, put forward by Davy entity DTDL Ltd, has been described by many as “underwhelming” and “generic”.

Aontú leader and Meath TD Peadar Tóibín has said the “monstrosity structure” highlights “incomprehensible” flaws in our planning system.

“While it is always good to see construction projects in our city, the proposals here, and the artist’s impression of what it will look like, are very grim-looking,” he said.

“St Stephen’s Green and much of the Georgian core of Dublin is being replaced year after year with anonymous glass-box buildings that could be in any other city in the world.

“The individual character of Dublin’s architecture is being stripped away bit by bit.”

He added: “Big developers appear to have little understanding or care for the artistic, cultural and heritage significance of buildings in Dublin city.

“When one looks at the artist’s impression of the new Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, the words of The Dubliners’ song Rare Auld Times come to mind.

“Our planning process is seriously flawed and what’s badly needed in Dublin City Council (DCC) is a good dose of cop-on.”

Mr Tóibín said that in contrast with such developments, ordinary people seeking planning permission often find it very difficult to get approval.

“As a TD, I often hear from constituents looking to build small houses that their planning application was rejected because there weren’t enough visible stones in the exterior wall of their cottage,” he said.

“The planning process, for ordinary people, can be incredibly difficult to navigate, and the rules seem far too strict.

“There is obviously merit in having protections for the aesthetic of a given area, but then on the other hand, we see big developers get permission for monstrosity structures which would completely transform the feel of our cities.”

The new building will have up to eight floors, including a proposed cinema and gallery. However, its recognisable dome roof, flower baskets, arched windows and ornate ironwork will be replaced.

The planning consultants, John Spain & Associates, told DCC that the existing building is “outdated” and the proposal seeks to enhance a high-quality shopping centre and office facility on a centrally located site.

Mr Spain claims the proposal will provide a significant rejuvenation of a key site at the gateway to Dublin’s south retail core.

However, more than 2,200 people have signed an online petition to stop the redesign going ahead.

Its creator, Caoimhe Laird Phelan, stated: “We urge the relevant authorities to recognise the historical significance of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre by listing it as a protected structure under Section 51 of the Planning and Development Act 2000 (Government Publications Office).

An artist’s impression of the new plan, put forward by Davy entity DTDL Ltd

“This would ensure any future development respects its architectural integrity while allowing for necessary updates.

“By signing this petition, you are supporting not just preservation but also respect for our shared cultural heritage in Dublin city centre.

“Please join us in safeguarding this piece of our history from unnecessary transformation.”

DCC has been contacted for comment.

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