Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council
2 Marine Rd
Dublin, A96 K6C9
3rd January 2023
Re. Large Scale Residential Development LRD permission for development on a site of c. 3.58 hectares at Dalguise House (Protected Structure RPS No. 870), Monkstown Road, Monkstown, County Dublin, A94 D7D1
Planning reference: LRD22A/0930
The Irish Georgian Society has significant concerns about this planning application for Dalguise House, a protected structure, due to what would be the irretrievable loss of what may be the largest surviving nineteenth-century garden in the Monkstown and Dun Laoghaire areas.
Dalguise House, a five bay two storey over basement suburban villa, is set back from the Monkstown Road within extensive gardens and is approached by an avenue along which lie two gate lodges. A previous report on the house noted that the grounds include “lawns and paddocks, a stable yard and former stable building, a large though disused walled garden, glasshouses/greenhouses and sundry out offices in a poor state of repair, a tennis court, and numerous areas of established tree and shrub planting” (Architectural Heritage Impact Assessment, ARC Architectural Consultants).
As an intact example of a nineteenth century suburban villa lying within its original grounds which retain much of their original planned form, the Irish Georgian Society is of the view that Dalguise House and its gardens are of considerable importance and that the development proposals would irretrievably diminish their heritage interest.
It is noted that the significance of the gardens is recognised in several sections of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR) which states as follows:
13.12 Conclusion (Landscape & Visual)
In terms of landscape/townscape sensitivity the site itself is considered to be of distinct sylvan character and heritage importance in its own right, being something of an urban demesne containing and surrounding Dalguise House.
14.4 Conclusions (Cultural Heritage & Archaeology)
The demesne landscape associated with Dalguise House also possesses cultural heritage significance, being a post medieval designed landscape…
15.3.5 Conclusions (Architectural Heritage)
… The significance of the landscape of the grounds lies in the retention of the eastern half of a large oval lawn, described by the entrance route, which linked Dalguise House an adjacent house to the west. The site is also notable in that it has remained undeveloped to this day.
Historic suburban development of Monkstown
Though the subject site lies largely outside of the Monkstown Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), consideration should be given to the provisions of the Monkstown ACA Character Appraisal & Recommendations (DLR, 2012) report for that area which notes that:
Monkstown… enjoys a unique architectural and landscape character that has evolved over the last 200 years, notably the classical terraces interspersed with large villas, set in wooded gardens built mainly in the late Georgian and Victorian periods. (p. 5).
In considering gardens in the area the report states that:
The landscape settings of the larger houses are an important element in the rich mix that expresses the Monkstown character. Many gardens are concealed from public view but others can be seen from the public road and are of particular note. (p. 27)
In considering the evolution of Monkstown’s and Dun Laoghaire's 19th century suburbs, the architect and historian Laura Johnstone notes:
In the eighteenth century, many of the villas in coastal villages and settlements on the outskirts of Dublin were non-permanent summer retreats. By the early nineteenth century, Monkstown and Dunleary were growing in popularity as seaside resorts. It became fashionable to live permanently in these resort landscapes partly due to a belief in the health-giving properties of the sea air. The emerging professional and upper-middle classes retreated to the suburbs to escape the overcrowded unsanitary conditions of the declining city centre…. This development created something neither city nor country, but rather in-between, a new suburban landscape in which dwelling and leisure were combined.
Johnstone, L. (2016) Vision for Suburbia on the Longford de Vesci Estate, IADS, XVIII, 89
Johnstone observes the lack of research into nineteenth-century suburban development in Dublin relative to the work that has been done on the urban planning of the eighteenth-century city. A particular absence is that of studies into the gardens that were laid out around suburban houses and villas, and which often surpassed them in aesthetic and design terms. She notes that:
…the setting-out of private pleasure grounds and public parks was an intrinsic part of nineteenth-century suburban development. (ibid, p. 99)
Given the central role gardens played in the development of nineteenth-century suburban Monkstown, the Irish Georgian Society contends that it is essential to fully understand these spaces before considering their development and, in the case of the proposals for Dalguise House, their irretrievable loss.
While consideration is given to the development of Dalguise House and its curtilage in the EIAR, a fully informed assessment of its historic gardens has not been undertaken. This is of particular importance given their scale, a minimal level of change since the nineteenth century, and the potential for their interest to surpass that of the house itself. As such, the Irish Georgian Society recommends that a suitably experienced historic gardens expert be engaged to prepare such an assessment.
Development plan & architectural heritage guidelines
It is noted that the following provision is made to describe the curtilage of Protected Structures in the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Development Plan 2022-2028:
The curtilage of a Protected Structure is often an essential part of the structure’s special interest. In certain circumstances, the curtilage may comprise a clearly defined garden or grounds, which may have been laid out to complement the design or function. However, the curtilage of a structure can also be expansive. The traditional proportionate relationship in scale between buildings, returns, gardens and mews structures should be retained. A garden size appropriate to that of the structure should be also be retained. Historic landscapes and gardens are also an important amenity and contribute to the setting and character of Protected Structures. These can include both built and natural features such as walled gardens, views/vistas, tree-lined avenues, decorative tree-clumps, woodlands, or plant collections.
11.4 Architectural Heritage, p. 218
The Plan sets out the following Objectives for the protection of the curtilage of protected structures including their gardens:
126.96.36.199 Policy Objective HER8: Work to Protected Structures
It is a Policy Objective to:
ix. Protect and retain important elements of built heritage including historic gardens, stone walls, entrance gates and piers and any other associated curtilage features.
x. Ensure historic landscapes and gardens associated with Protected Structures are protected from inappropriate development (consistent with NPO 17 of the NPF and RPO 9.30 of the RSES).
11.5.2 Policy Objective HER26: Historic Demesnes and Gardens
It is a Policy Objective that historic demesnes and gardens should be identified and protected to reflect and acknowledge their significance as part of our National Heritage. The following houses and gardens are listed: Cabinteely House, Marlay House, Fernhill and Old Conna.
In considering proposed developments within the gardens of protected structures or such that affect their setting, the Department’s Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines state the following:
6.8.6: The planning authority should discourage the infilling of gardens, lanes or courtyards of architectural or historical interest. Open spaces such as these have a function in the natural illumination and ventilation of a densely developed urban area…
13.1.2: In the case of a large country house, the stable buildings, coach-houses, walled gardens, lawns, ha-has and the like may all be considered to form part of the curtilage of the building unless they are located at a distance from the main building.
13.2.4: When identifying features for protection within the attendant grounds of a protected structure, it is important that the planning authority has knowledge of the historical development of the site and the interrelationship of the elements.
The substantial gardens of Dalguise House form an integral part of its historic context and comprise a rare survivor in the Dun Laoghaire/Monkstown area. The significance of these gardens has been recognised in various sections of the EIAR though the Irish Georgian Society contends that further research by a gardens historian is warranted to fully understand their interest. It is noted that the Monkstown ACA Character Appraisal & Recommendations report identifies the importance of the landscape settings to the larger houses in the area, and that the County Development Plan contains objectives for the protection of historic gardens and historic landscapes from inappropriate development. The Architectural Heritage Protection Guidelines also discourage the infilling of historic gardens.
For these reasons, the Irish Georgian Society recommends that the applicants be asked to provide additional information on the history of the gardens and, in our view, that planning permission be refused.
Executive Director Irish Georgian Society