Appeal to save historic landscape around Belcamp, Co. Dublin
Posted by Zoe Coleman
The Irish Georgian Society has appealed a decision by Fingal County Council to approve a major housing development at Belcamp, Malahide Road, Co. Dublin.
Belcamp was built in the 1780s by Sir Edward Newenham, politician, ardent supporter of the American Republican movement, and correspondent with George Washington and Benjamin Franklin. It lay within “finely disposed grounds… commanding some rich views” and a tower built by Newenham still stands close by which is understood to have been the first monument ever erected in honour of George Washington.
The house and demesne were bought by the Oblate fathers in the 1890s and served as a school until 2004 when it was sold for its development potential. It has lain empty since that time and, through vandalism and arson, the house and its associated buildings have been extensively damaged. The current planning application proposes the restoration of the house which would secure its future however proposals to develop houses, apartments and shops within its parklands would irreversibly diminish its historic setting.
The correspondence between Newenham and Washington covered a range of topics and included amongst these were considerations relating to the parklands they were developing around their respective homes in Dublin and Virginia. There are affinities between the two most notably in the layout of their avenues. Historic mapping evidence suggests that much of the historic landscape of Belcamp remains intact yet the current development is being proposed in the absence of a comprehensive landscape assessment carried out by a suitably qualified professional.
In appealing this planning application, the Society has submitted that as Belcamp is the only landscape in Ireland with an authentic connection to the American Revolution, it is critical that such an assessment be undertaken.
The full text of the Society’s appeal, prepared by members of its Architectural Conservation & Planning Committee, is available to download through this link.