30th September 2021
Re: Proposed development of 7 to nine storey building at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Eccles Street, Dublin 7.
To whom it may concern,
The Irish Georgian Society wishes to express its considerable reservations about this planning application given the evident impact it would have on the scale of Eccles Street and the character of the terrace of Georgian houses that face the development site.
Eccles Street was laid out and developed as a residential area from the 1770s to the 1830s during which time primarily two-bay, four-storey over basement houses were built. The Mater Hospital was subsequently constructed on the north-western end of the street from the 1850s to the 1880s, largely to the designs of John Burke. The significant expansion of the hospital in the 20th century saw the demolition of a significant stretch of the northern side of the street leaving only eight of the original houses standing. These new works gave little consideration to the character and scale of the street with a large section dominated ever since by open plan car parking – currently the subject of this planning application. Those surviving houses on the south side of the street are now included in the Record of Protected Structures and lie within an area zoned Z8 (to protect the existing architectural and civic design character etc.)
It is regrettable that the current proposal for a six-storey building on the Eccles Street façade rising to nine storeys behind does not seek to make redress this long-standing urban eyesore. In considering comparable interventions elsewhere in the city where substantial new buildings have been introduced into Georgian streetscapes, reference could be given to the ESB offices on Fitzwilliam Street. In this case the façade has been designed to address the context, scale and materials of its environment while rising in height to the rear. Consideration could also be given to Dublin City Council’s replacement of a terrace of re-constructed ‘Georgian’ tenement flats on York Street where scale, context and materials were considered even though the Georgian character had largely been lost already.
It is the view of the Irish Georgian Society that in the case of the proposals for the Mater Hospital an opportunity has been missed to take the design approach that was previously adopted on Fitzwilliam Street and York Street. Such an approach could have sought to re-make Eccles Street in terms of its architectural quality rather than dominate it through the overbearing scale that has instead been proposed. As such, the Irish Georgian Society recommends that the scheme be re-considered so as to more appropriately address the existing character of Eccles Street as schemes elsewhere in the city have done before.
Executive Director Irish Georgian Society