Conservation N2 Slane By-Pass and Public Realm Enhancement Scheme

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Public Realm Enhancement Scheme
Proposed 'Public Realm Enhancement Scheme', Slane, Co. Meath

An Bord Pleanala

64 Marlborough Street

Dublin 1

D01 V902

RE: Proposed Road Development comprising of the N2 Slane By-Pass and Public Realm Enhancement Scheme

Ref. 318573

To whom it may concern,

Having previously commented on the EIA Scoping Consultation for the N2 Slane Bypass and Public Realm Enhancement Scheme, the Irish Georgian Society wishes to comment on this application to An Bord Pleanala and specifically to express concerns about the design proposals for The Square in Slane and road crossing points within the Slane Village Architectural Conservation Area.


The proposed provision of a bypass for Slane is welcomed in principle by the Irish Georgian Society given the expected and much needed reduction in volumes of HGV traffic that will result along the N2 through the village of Slane and across the historic Boyne Bridge. Such traffic levels have long had a detrimental impact on the public realm of Slane village and its composure and security. HGV vehicles have also inevitably generated a maximum of noise and atmospheric pollution in using the road between the bridge and river, while that route has tragically become renowned as an accident blackspot.

In considering the current presentation of Slane, it is noted that the traffic management system has generated significant visual clutter that has compromised the character and appreciation of its streetscape. This devaluing of the public realm and the ambience of the location has not been to the benefit of the architecture of the village, a situation that is most evident in The Square.

Observations on the proposals

The Irish Georgian Society has very significant concerns about the proposals for Public Realm Improvements in Slane, most notably those for The Square and the planned road crossing points lying within the Slane Village Architectural

Conservation Area (ACA). The Square is of notable significance and sensitivity for its grouping of four houses that were built c. 1760, with each flanked by screen walls and outbuildings. The proposed crossing point on the N2 lies next to a number of protected structures, four of which were constructed c. 1760 while the fifth was built c. 1840. The first of the two planned crossing points to the west of The Square on the N51 is situated next to the Conyngham Arms Hotel, built c. 1770, while the second is next to Saint Patrick's Church which was built in the 1790s. Both buildings are also protected structures.

The Slane Village Architectural Conservation Area Character Appraisal (2008) notes that the “objective of Architectural Conservation Area designation is to protect the special character of an area through rigorous control and positive management of any changes made to the built environment” (10.0 Implications for Planning and Development). In

considering the significance of The Square, the Appraisal states the following:

It is a fine example of a formally planned diamond and still forms the focal point of the village as it did in the eighteenth century. The octagon was carefully designed as a unit with four three-storey over basement residences, diagonally positioned and connected by screen walls to outbuildings forming pavilions to the streets, which radiate from the square…

The set-piece of the external space, streetscape and roofline created by the formal octagon has defined Slane throughout the centuries and is the architectural icon of the village to this day. As the village’s only planned open space, its role has been highly significant and its uniqueness is expressed in the status of the surrounding buildings, which were planned as residential rather than public. The proportion of the four houses in relation to the scale of the old market place lends a level of sophistication to the village, which otherwise conforms to archetypical provincial planning. (7.1.1 Architectural Character)

In considering works to the Public Realm and, notably, changes to traffic management and parking within the ACA, the Appraisal states:

[Changes] should take into account its ACA designation and seek to preserve and enhance the character of the area in the design and provision of parking meter machines, signage, ramps, renewed surface treatment and pavement layout. (10.2.2 Works to the public realm)

Given the recognised importance and sensitivity of this eighteenth-century urban set-piece and of the protected structures on the streets radiating from it, the Irish Georgian Society is of the view that every effort should have been made to comply with this provision of the Slane Village Architectural Conservation Area Character Appraisal. Regrettably, it is apparant that little or no allowance for the historic built environment was made in the design approach which instead seems to have been driven entirely by engineering requirements.

The Irish Georgian Society wishes to draw attention to the following design details of particular concern that are outlined in Vol. 3 (General Arrangement) of the Environmental Impact Assessment Report (EIAR):

  • The proposed use of ‘Asphalt with red chipping’ and ‘Red Tactile Paving (Controlled Crossing)’ would dominate views within The Square and would significantly compromise the character and setting of protected structures within the ACA.
  • No detailed information is provided on the materials to be used for the proposed ‘large unit paving’ or ‘medium unit paving’ and so it is not possible to determine the visual impact of these proposed works.
  • The purpose of the ‘raised platforms’ in the centre of The Square and at the proposed crossing points is unclear as is their visual impact.
  • No details or design rationale are provided for the proposed ‘soft landscaping area’.

The proposals for Kerbs & Pavements in Vol. 3 of the EIAR provide similar reason for concern as details for the new signage and surface treatment of the proposed ‘Shared Pedestrian and Cyclist Facility’ are unclear.

It would seem that photomontages of the Slane Village ACA have not been included in Vol. 4 of the EIA Report though a limited number of these views have been included in a gallery on the website. These confirm concerns about the detrimental visual impact of the planned works with wide expanses of red surface finishes dominating the urban space.

In its submission to the EIA Scoping Consultation, the Irish Georgian Society had indicated that it looked “forward to the knock-on effects of the rejuvenation of the architectural and urban heritage that would inevitably follow the vast improvements of the ambiance and environment the bypass would endow”. Sadly, the design proposals do not encourage confidence that such a scenario would follow for The Square and the Slane Village ACA as the public realm improvements outlined in the application might inhibit rather than facilitate regeneration.

For the proposed bypass of Slane to succeed in attracting investment into the village’s built heritage and promoting sensitive improvements, the Irish Georgian Society recommends that an RIAI accredited Grade 1 Conservation Architect be engaged to assist with devising a suitably sympathetic design for The Square.

Yours sincerely,

Donough Cahill
Executive Director IGS