Councillors Weigh in on Developer’s Plans for Moore Street Area

Developer Hammerson’s plans for the Moore Street area came before councillors last week, who overall welcomed that redevelopment could be on the horizon but questioned some of the details.

The mix of apartments and a planned archway over the street were both criticised by councillors on the Central Area Committee, who don’t get a final say on whether the plans go ahead.

In June, Hammerson applied to Dublin City Council for planning permission to redevelop pockets of a large site bounded by O’Connell Street, Henry Street, Moore Street and Parnell Street.

Designs so far showing a hotel and a new public plaza, restaurants, shops, offices, a cultural space and 94 apartments.

The plans run up to nine storeys, with some buildings kept, including those on the record of protected structures.

Dublin City Council owns 24-25 Moore Street, 1-3 O’Rahilly Parade and 14-15 Moore Lane, which are included in the plans.

In 2008, councillors voted to sell these to the developer who owned the wider site at the time, who had plans for the site that didn’t happen.

If the new plans are substantially different, councillors will need to vote again on whether to sell the buildings, said a written response from council officials to a councillor query.

What Is the Plan?

The area around Moore Street is carved up into five different sites, and Hammerson submitted applications for three of them so far.

Sites 3, 4, and 5 are blocks that sit on the east side of Moore Street, edged up to Henry Street to the south and the narrower O’Rahilly Parade to the north.

There’s a chunk of the street in the middle outside of the sites. Those are 14 to 17 Moore Street, national monuments which aren’t included in these plans, said Claire Sheehan, a council senior executive planner at the meeting.

“Any works that affect the national monuments would require ministerial approval,” she says.

Hammerson plans to keep any protected structures in the area and bring disused buildings on Moore Street back into use, said Sheehan.

To “provide a sensitive redevelopment around the national monument at Moore Street”, says Sheehan, quoting from the planning application.

The master plan envisages a new public square, a new metro station and pedestrian streets linking Moore Street to O’Connell Street and Henry Place.

“They talk as well about a 1916 historical trail which would be done in consultation with stakeholders,” says Sheehan.

On Site 3, which sits at the southern end of Moore Street next to Henry Street, Hammerson wants a seven-year planning permission to build a 150-bed hotel, with two cafe-restaurants and two shops in a development that would scale nine storeys at the highest point.

Sites on masterplan for area; aerial view (2020) of site three. Images from planning application courtesy of Dublin City Council.
Site 3 design. Image from planning application courtesy of Dublin City Council.

The developer also proposes an apartment complex of 79 build-to-rent apartments. Of those, 70 would be one-bedroom apartments or studios.

Hammerson would retain many of the shop fronts on Henry Street, said Sheehan at the meeting. Some buildings would also be demolished and the heights of buildings on Henry Street and Moore Street would increase.

For Site 4,towards the middle of the eastern side of Moore Street, Hammerson proposes part of the new public plaza, 295 sqm of offices, 60 sqm for cultural space, another 15 apartments, and four cafe-restaurants and five shops.

For Site 5, which sits further north up Moore Street, the application seeks permission for offices and restaurants in a block between two to six storeys, and the rest of the public plaza.

Hammerson is seeking a 15-year planning permission for Site 5, says Sheehan.

Visual of part of site 4, 10 to 13 Moore Street. Image from planning application.
Visuals of plans for site 5. View from public square; view from Moore Street. Images from planning application.

### What Councillors Said

Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said she was concerned about a high concentration of one-bed apartments in the plans. It “doesn’t allow for family life”, she said.

The level of dereliction is “absolutely appalling” around Moore Street, said independent Councillor Cieran Perry, so he welcomes the idea of regeneration.

But he doesn’t like the archway in the plans because it splits Moore Street or the fact that all the homes are build-to-rent. Other councillors said the same.

There is no requirement to have a mix of homes for rent and sale under the design standards for new apartments though, says Colm Harte, executive planner with Dublin City Council.

“The skyscape has been altered,” from the perspective of O’Connell Street, which is an architectural conservation area, says Green Party Councillor Donna Cooney. “One of the biggest attractions of O’Connell Street is the wonderful rooftops.”

Several councillors queried why the developer wanted planning permission for 15 years for some of the project.

“What is the rationale for a planning permission being sought for such a protracted period of time?” says Fine Gael Councillor Ray McAdam. Five years is the norm, he says.

“I really think that any application that is for 15 years really should be rejected,” said Labour Councillor Joe Costello. Fifteen years of disruption “just isn’t tenable”, he said.

“How could businesses survive 15 years of upheaval?” said independent Councillor Noeleen Reilly.

For years, immigrant businesses on the street, many trading under short-term leases, have been plagued by uncertainty about the future. Some have said they would like to get back to Moore Street after the redevelopment.

On a recent sunny Monday at the Moore Street market, stallholder Caroline Alwright said she had heard nothing about the new plans.

“I’d like some information,” she said, as she sold a large bunch of bananas to a man on a bicycle. She has worked here for more than 40 years, she says.

Alwright says she won’t be moving from Moore Street to make way for construction. “I’m not going anywhere.”

If the street becomes a building site, “we’ll just have to work around it”, she says.

At the meeting, Social Democrats Councillor Cat O’Driscoll said that the market traders on Moore Street need amenities like running water, toilets and storage facilities. “It is iconic – we need to support it,” she said, of the Moore Street market.

Disruption to existing businesses, “is something that we do take very serious consideration of”, said Harte.

The Hammerson plans intend that the market traders will remain on Moore Street, he says. He didn’t mention plans for the many immigrant businesses on the street

Labour Councillor Joe Costello said that redevelopment of the area is long overdue but he didn’t like the look of the plans.

With a lack of green space and the height of the hotel building, “it looks extraordinarily bulky and dark and grey”, he said.

Sinn Féin Councillor Micheál Mac Donncha said that the nine-storey hotel “would be very dominant and loom over the [Moore Street] terrace”.

Sinn Féin Councillor Máire Devine asked whether the number of hotels already approved and under construction in the city would be taken into account.

Harte said that is something that planners would look at.

Council planners are in the early stages of assessing the planning applications and they may share some of the questions and concerns raised by the councillors, says Harte.

Also In Play

Usually, councillors only get to make observations on planning applications, they don’t get to decide whether plans go ahead. But in this case, they may have a louder voice as the council owns some of the buildings included in the plans.

Mac Donncha, the Sinn Féin councillor, asked whether council staff had informed Hammerson that the council had votedto add numbers 10 to 25 Moore Street to the record of protected structures.

That vote took place after the Hammerson plans were lodged.

Mac Donncha says that means that no development can proceed until a decision is reached as to whether those buildings should be protected.

Dublin City Council also owns 24-25 Moore Street, 1-3 O’Rahilly Parade and 14-15 Moore Lane, says a note issued to Mac Donncha by the council chief executive’s office.

Those buildings are included in the Hammerson plans and Dublin City Council has given the developer permission to include them, said Sheehan at the meeting.

In 2008, councillors had agreed to sell the properties to a developer, Chartered Land, which had plans for the site that never went ahead.

“If Hammersons obtain planning permission for a scheme that is materially different to that of Chartered Land then the City Valuer would have to agree new terms and conditions with Hammersons,” says the council chief executive’s response to questions from Mac Donncha.

If the valuer agrees a deal with the developer, then councillors will vote again to decide on whether to transfer those properties to Hammerson, says the response.

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