Diageo and Ballymore are applying for planning permission for a new development in the Liberties, with over 330 homes and a large amount of commercial space. I think it’s a mostly very positive development, and have sent in the submission below. You can check out the (extensive!) planning documents here.

Any thoughts? Drop me an email at michael@pidgeon.ie or join the conversation on Twitter here. The last day for observations is 1st September 2022.


I am writing in broad support of the application by Ballymore for some of the Guinness Brewery lands off James’ Street (ref: 4588/22). I am asking that planners approve the application with some modifications.

Design

This is a well-designed application, which contains some genuinely beautiful spaces and buildings. The area’s ongoing industrial heritage is clearly visible in the choices of materials and sensitive treatment of existing buildings.

Many applications contain standardised, dull, joyless apartment blocks. This development works well with what is already there and expands density and capacity effectively.

The provision of shops and cultural spaces is particularly welcome, for an area with a strong heritage which needs a lift.

Housing

The 300+ units will provide a real boost to the area. It’s close to town, well connected to public transport, and in area where you can easily walk or cycle around the city.

It is particularly welcome that 20% of the units will be set aside for social housing, to be managed by the Iveagh Trust. The Trust not only have an obvious historical connection to this area, but have a good reputation and track record locally.

There is a good mix of different apartment sizes (45 studio, 88 one-beds, 166 two-beds, 37 three-beds), and a positive (rare!) a mix of build-to-rent and build-for-sale, which will support a good mixed community over time.

Hotel and commercial development

This is rightly a mixed-use development, aiming to deliver housing, hotels, cultural space, shopping space and offices.

This is certainly the correct approach, but for an area like this, the balance should be more weighted in favour of home building. There is a danger that, with the proposed mix, that the area will be overly dominated by offices and thus become quite empty by night.

Given the ongoing housing crisis, and Dublin City development plan rules around overconcentration, I believe that the proposal for two hotels is a mistake. The combined 300+ beds for visitors seem like an overdevelopment in the wrong sector, and it would be preferable for extra permanent housing instead. Some hotel capacity may well be appropriate, but planners should in particular seek a rebalancing away from hotel accommodation and overconcentration on site.

Parking

Given the central location of the site, the car parking provision should be reduced. In particular, the 95 car spaces for the offices on site sets the wrong note for people commuting to this central location. The site is minutes away from Heuston Station, a Luas stop, and will be on a high-frequency BusConnects route.

Some parking is indeed necessary, but the city should be moving away from providing this level of car parking, in line with the city development plan objectives on climate change and parking reduction, along with national climate policies in the transport sector.

Construction management

Finally, this project will clearly take many years to complete. Over that period, we know from past experience that parking by builders and related staff can cause friction locally. The planning authority should impose clear conditions for the developers to provide on-site parking on their own lands for the duration of the building works, to ensure that local residents are not disadvantaged unnecessarily.