Buildings at Risk
Draft Dublin City Public Realm Strategy
Dublin City Council recently created a comprehensive document meant to guide the future treatment and development of Dublin’s public realm, which is made up of the streets, buildings, structures and spaces that are accessible to the public. To quote the Strategy, “These public spaces of the city play a vital role in how Dublin functions and its attractiveness to those who live in, work in or visit the city. It is a key part of the city’s identity and distinctive character and its quality affects the city’s competitiveness and ability to attract investment. Because the public realm is so essential to the everyday experience of the city, how it is planned, designed and managed is very important.”
The Irish Georgian Society has this week submitted its observations to the local authority, citing our full support of the proposed principles and actions which seek to take a comprehensive and cohesive approach to managing the challenges outlined therein. Additionally, the response recommended that additional principles and actions be undertaken.
The Dublin City Council wishes to ‘declutter’ the public realm of excess or uncoordinated signage. The Society feels that in cooperation with the Roads Authority, such signage can be streamlined while maintaining efficiency and safety. We also express that a multidisciplinary team should be formed to undertake surveys and address site-specific issues of unnecessary or inconsistent promotional or informational signage. Such steps will have a visual and experiential effect more closely akin to that originally created in the Georgian city.
The Society also supports the Strategy’s goal of increased dependence on public transport in the historic core as a means of sustainability. Likewise, we suggest that the new public realm Design Manual outlined in the Strategy should give particular attention to ensuring that the infrastructure associated with public and private transport shall be sensitive to the fabric and character of the surrounding protected structures, conservation/character areas and historic vistas. The Irish Georgian Society has in the past lobbied for remedial action where infrastructure related to proposed LUAS connectors and Dublin Bus cages have impeded on the historic environment.
The Dublin Civic Trust submitted a number of suggestions to the city council which the Society wholeheartedly supported in its response, including the assertion that stakeholders referenced throughout the Strategy should be explicitly identified to lend assurance of participation, credence and commitment to the Strategy, as well as the suggestion that the Shop Front Design Guidelines should be updated with attention to increased respect between shop front design and the character of historic buildings. The Society also supports the Trust’s observation that damaged elements of historic street surfaces should be reinstated where appropriate. The DublinCity Development Plan 2011-2017 proposes to consolidate and enhance Character Areas of the city, and we, alongside Dublin Civic Trust, urge Dublin City Council to consider the character and physical identify of a district as an essential aspect of the design and management process.
Finally, a number of positive goals were set by the Strategy which the Society wholeheartedly encourages, including an aim to appropriately develop derelict sites with the added stipulation that they respect the character of the historic environment, as well as establishing an effective code of practice for public realm works, completing additional research into the quality, role and historic significance of the public realm, and especially the Aungier Street Regeneration Pilot which will serve as an excellent and appropriate example of the central role building conservation can play in public realm development and economic rejuvenation.
The Strategy is a cohesive and positive document which seeks to bring revitalisation and order to Dublin’s public realm. With the incorporation of observations by the Irish Georgian Society and other conservation organisations, we look forward to the implementation of this important document.
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