New plans for future of O’Connell Street stir up a mixed response

by Dublin Gazette
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Renewed plans for the future of O’Connell Street and Moore Street have been unveiled by developers, but there have been mixed reactions to the proposals.

Initial plans for an indoor shopping mall have been scrapped by the UK-based developers Hammerson, in favour of an open plan shopping area, public plaza and more.

The new plans were unveiled at a proposal in late April, with former planning permission for a €1.25 billion shopping complex being scrapped in favour of the new plans.

In the updated proposal, which has yet to be submitted to An Bord Pleanala, the six-acre site between O’Connell Street and Moore Street will be home to retail units, office space, a hotel and a residential development.

It will be an ‘open scheme’, with a pedestrian street from O’Connell Street to Moore Street.

There will also be two public squares, a large one in the centre of the development and another smaller, ‘secret’ square at the junction of Moore Lane and Henry Place.

Previously, concerns were raised over the impact of the large-scale development on Moore Street, recognised as one of Ireland’s most historic streets given its role in the 1916 Rising.

However, developers have said they are aiming to maintain the ‘unique character’ of the existing Moore Street Markets in consultation with Dublin City Council and the stall holders, as well as introducing a 1916 Historical Trail to commemorate the battleground of the Rising.

Dublin Chamber’s Head of Communications Graeme McQueen welcomed the revised proposals, saying that the plans ‘walk the fine line’ between preserving Moore Street’s history, whilst maximising the potential of the long-abandoned site.

McQueen said: “The north of O’Connell Street has been lying idle for far too long. O’Connell Street should be the jewel in the crown of Dublin. But over the past few decades it has become an area of huge frustrating for both businesses and locals.

“The plan from Hammerson to redevelop the entire area is very welcome and has the potential to be the start of a bright new era for both O’Connell Street and the wider north City Centre area.”

“This Hammerson project, in combination with the redevelopment of the Clery’s building and other developments, will breathe new life into an area of Dublin that has underwhelmed for far too long. These moves are huge exciting for Dublin and for Dubliners. They provide reason for optimism that O’Connell Street will soon once again be a street that the city can be fully proud of.”

Some 12 years ago, Numbers 14-17 Moore Street were declared a national monument, with the State planning to develop the buildings into a commemorative centre for the Rising.

Last Saturday, a protest was held on Moore Street in which several locals, politicians and local election candidates gathered to pledge their support to fight any major amendments to the historical street.

Dozens of people held hands and stood around the historic buildings to protest against demolition of any of the buildings, and to highlight the importance of maintaining the site as it was in 1916.

Online, reaction from campaigners looking to save the historic street has been negative about the development, with many slamming plans by Hammerson to develop Number 10 Moore Street into a retail unit in addition to the refurbishment of other pre-1916 buildings on the street.

Paddy Scarlett, who is a great-grand-nephew of the famous Pearse brothers, said: “The announcement of the planned destruction of part of the historic Moore St battlefield site … leaves me angry.

“I am reminded of the Wood Quay Viking settlement, and the facade of the Music Hall in Fishamble St, which are now lost forever.

“To announce [the revamp] on the anniversary of the executions of Padraig Pearse, Thomas Clarke and Tomas MacDonagh is insulting to the relatives of the GPO garrison, and incredibly insensitive. It will be, for many of us, a red-line issue.”

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