OBJECTORS HAVE DESCRIBED €100 million plans to redevelop the “iconic” St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre in Dublin as “bland”, “uninspired” and “generic”.

Last month, Davy entity, DTDL Ltd lodge plans to rejuvenate the Dublin shopping centre that will see the centre get a complete facelift, provide an additional 21,419sq/m in gross floor area space and include a reconfigured mall opening onto St Stephen’s Green.

The DTDL scheme will add two storeys to the existing six storey landmark shopping centre.

Outlining he need for the scheme, consultants for DTDL have described the existing St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre as “outdated and ‘underperforming”.

However, 13 objections have been lodged to date against the scheme with a small number more to be registered while An Taisce also raising concerns.

In an objection, Ranelagh resident Dr Craig Connolly has contended that “this is an offensively ill-considered development proposal that threatens to raze any and all character from one of the most central, popular and prominent buildings in the city of Dublin”.

He said that what is proposed is at turns extremely generic, bland, neutral, profit-maximising and devoid of any and all character.

Dalkey resident Ellen Murphy has told the council that the existing façade is an iconic sight in Dublin’s city centre “often featuring on postcards and promotional images of the city … It is a landmark of Dublin city and home, akin to the Ha’penny Bridge and Cleary’s clock”.

Murphy contends that the proposed design “is akin to a northern English shopping centre and adds nothing to the aesthetics of the region”.

Former Environment Editor at The Irish Times Frank McDonald has told the council that “I am no fan of the St Stephen’s Green shopping centre”.

He added: “But I’m aghast at the arrogance of the applicants in this case proposing three additional floors of offices on top of an architecturally generic replacement of the shopping centre itself.”

McDonald contends that the proposal “falls well short of the exceptional architectural treatment that might be expected given its prominent location at the top of Grafton Street”.

Tenant and operator of Tribe at the St Stephen’s Green Centre Emmet Rogers has told the planners “as a tenant there has not been any provision made for current paying tenants in the new development”.

He said: “There are only 8/9, 3000+ square foot units for retail in the new development. This does leave a lot of us with no option to stay and grow our business in the new centre.

Rogers said: “We are a family owned retails business and this could have a devastating effect on our business going forward.”

He asked: “Is it justified in developing so much of the centre into office space? This is at a time when the office landscape has changed. Remote working, shared office space and the availability of office space in Dublin.

He said: “For example, the first floor will now only have four retail units in comparison to the 25+ (18 occupied) it has at present.”

Bryan Dunphy of Ceann Fort, Dublin 8 has told the council that the Stephen’s Green shopping centre “is an iconic part of Dublin’s built streetscape”.

He said: “It contributes positively to the visual character of Stephen’s Green and is immediately identifiable to the citizens of the city. The proposed structure is indistinguishable from any number of recent building projects throughout the city. It would be a loss to the character of the city if the current structure was to be removed.”

Alfonso Bonilla of Drumcondra, Dublin said that he wishes to encourage the Council to invite the applicant to rethink what is being proposed and to reassess the value of the redevelopment of a landmark site with such a mundane and instantly forgettable proposal.

In his objection, Kiefer Ramberg from Ossory Rd, Dublin 3 contends that “the proposed plan includes replacing the iconic dome structure of the centre with an, in my opinion, bland and uninspired façade that I believe will detract from the already fading character of this city”.

Dublin City Planning Officer with An Taisce Kevin Duff has told the council that “the preferred approach would be for a much lower key refurbishment of the Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, reconsidering addition of several floors of office space on top”.

The St Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre was first opened in 1988 and the Davy entity has lodged the application after paying a reported €175 million for the centre on behalf of its clients in 2019.

A design statement lodged with the scheme states that the plan is to deliver a vibrant and commercial sustainable use that is capable of revitalising the surrounding streets; create a new city gateway and rejuvenate South King Street.

A decision is due on the scheme next month.

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