Dubliners say ‘neigh’ to removal of popular mural in Smithfield

by Dublin Gazette
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Yet another piece of street art may fall foul of planning permission regulations in the city centre, with a popular mural in Smithfield now under threat of removal. 

The Horseboy mural was created by art collective SUBSET, who are the artists behind dozens of other colourful murals that have popped up across the city.

Now, An Bord Pleanala are set to make a ruling in December on the future of the prominent piece, on the basis that the creation may require planning permission to remain in place.

Another SUBSET mural in Smithfield of English rapper Stormzy was removed in 2017, with Dublin City Council citing that no planning permission was sought for the artwork, and that there was no application for the retention of the piece. 

A petition has now been set up by SUBSET to advocate for Horseboy to stay, saying that “the need for planning permission for murals has been a thorn in the side of efforts to develop street art in Dublin in recent years.”

Previously, a warning letter was issued for the Horseboy mural, but the tenant living in the house that the piece is painted on made an application to Dublin City Council in June.

In the letter, the tenant said that the painting should be considered an ‘exempted development’ and be allowed to remain in place. A previous arrangement between the council and the tenant had designated it as such. 

However, a submission was then made by the owner of the property, who raised an objection to the mural. Council documents detailed that the owner had asked the long-term tenant to remove Horseboy on a number of occasions.

In response to this development, SUBSET said: “If the landlord wishes for the artwork to be removed we respect that decision as it is ultimately their choice to make.

“However to the best of our knowledge the tenant had in fact received permission from the landlord at the time we painted this piece. DCC then retrospectively permitted the artwork, for which the landlord’s permission is required. Curious.”

The tenant then gave three reasons as to why the mural should remain, including that the works did not ‘materially affect the external appearance of the structure/property’, that prior to the instillation of the mural the wall had been subject to graffiti, and that the ‘Church Street-facing facade is unaffected by the mural painting’, as it’s on the side of a building. 

Now, a decision on the future of the mural lies with An Bord Pleanala, after the case was progressed to the planning authority to decide on Dublin City Council’s decision to remove the artwork.

An online petition has now been set up by SUBSET, attracting over 4,000 signatures at time of publication.

A decision on the mural by An Bord Pleanala is expected in December. 

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