In Harold’s Cross, residents and the climate-conscious wonder if they hit homes to rebuild more

Fiona Callaghan lands an elbow on the roof of her car. She wouldn’t say it would be better to demolish the existing homes behind her and build denser, she says. “Because I don’t want to have to move. But that’s obviously a selfish thing.

His housemate Orla Lynch stands at the foot of the steps leading to their flat at Harold’s Bridge Court, in a four-block set of duplexes next to Harold’s Cross Road.

“It’s such a nice apartment complex, I think,” Lynch said. “That would be really hard to love, let it go. I think that would be the worst.

On July 21, Adroit Company Limited applied for planning permission to demolish the duplexes where Callaghan, Lynch and others live, and the handful of other homes on the site – 53 homes in total – as well as a warehouse housing the MART artist studios on Greenmount Lane and ancillary structures.

It says it wants to build 194 apartments spread over four blocks of two to nine floors on the one-hectare site, as well as space for a nursery, common areas for residents, retail space, 22 artists’ studios and a exhibition space.

On Monday, September 12, at a meeting of the council’s South Central Area Committee, council’s senior planner Eileen Buck gave a presentation to local councilors on the proposed demolition and development.

Councilors said they did not think demolishing the buildings would be good for the climate and the development might be too big.

Green Party Councilor Carolyn Moore said: “I’m disappointed there hasn’t been a more imaginative and sustainable approach to adding density to this site.

What are the packages?

The four duplexes of Harold’s Bridge Court duplexes are three stories high, with a row of parking lots in front of each and a shed to the side for bicycle parking.

There is a small green to the west where the warehouse housing the MART artist studios sits behind a fence.

Firms with similar names have failed in three planning applications since 1993 when Adroit Ltd obtained planning permission to build Harold’s Bridge Court.

In 2000, Adroit & Co Ltd. was refused permission to construct a four-storey building and to add a duplex apartment block at Harold’s Bridge Court and a pedestrian entrance from Limekiln Lane.

In 2005, a request by The Adroit Company to build five four- to six-storey apartment buildings next to Harold’s Bridge Court was rejected by An Bord Pleanála, who said the height would make them “visually distracting” and constitute a overdevelopment of the area. .

In 2016, The Adroit Company failed in a similar request to demolish the duplexes, the Clare Villas houses and the MART studio warehouse, in order to build six three- and four-story apartment buildings on the same site.

The Warehouse and Clare Villas. Photo by Claudia Dalby.

At last Monday’s regional committee meeting, Fianna Fáil councilor Deirdre Conroy criticized the heights of the new proposal.

“This nine-story building in a historic area overlooking the Grand Canal is frankly not acceptable,” she said.

Moore, the Green Party councilor, said the developer had already had a planning application for large apartment buildings rejected.

“This application was rejected in 2017 based on its height and the impact on the landscape, and I just find it crazy that they come back a few years later with something even higher, even denser “, she said. .

Construction is too dense for Harold’s Cross because it does not yet have a local area plan, she said.

Adroit Company Ltd did not respond to questions sent on Friday asking for its response to criticism that the proposed building is too tall.

Knock on houses

Tara Deacy, a Social Democrat councillor, said it would be crazy to destroy so much housing.

‘If anyone looked from space at our current housing crisis in Dublin and heard that this level of housing was going to be reversed, I think they would wonder if we have completely lost our minds,’ she said. .

The planner’s presentation was unaware that people would be displaced, said Pat Dunne, an adviser to Independents 4 Change.

“Are we going to end up with more than 200 homeless people following this desire to densify the site? he said.

The Residential Tenancies Commission register has 13 entries for tenancies at Harold’s Bridge Court or Harolds Bridge Court, and 63 entries for tenancies at Harold Bridge Court.

On Thursday Callaghan, the resident of Harold’s Bridge Court, said it would be difficult to find a new place because you just don’t hear about new places. “So imagine everyone here going out looking for a place at the exact same time. Like, that’s terrifying.

Larger buildings on the site would mean there would be more people to house, she said, and there is obviously a demand for homes in the town. “So, I mean, some extras, yeah, grand. But that makes us throw ourselves on the nose.

Their place is more affordable than others she’s seen there, she says. Callaghan and his roommates pay between €650 and €750 each for their rooms.

Agustin Pellegri, who also lives in Harold’s Bridge Court, says he pays €1,540 a month for a two-bed flat. “It’s spacious.”

The city needs more apartments, he says. But help should be offered to those currently living there, he says. “You have to provide them with alternative accommodation in the meantime, or whatever.”

Adroit Company Ltd did not respond to questions asking whether it would find alternative accommodation for current tenants if the application to demolish their homes was approved and they were moved.

greener building

Moore, the Green Party adviser, told the meeting she couldn’t get past the developer’s proposal to tear down the homes.

“On a site that is certainly well-situated for higher density development, but it’s not in line with our climate goals or our sustainability goals to demolish 50 homes,” she said.

Pat Barry, chief executive of the Irish Green Building Council (IGBC), said the new buildings could be more energy efficient than the houses currently in them.

But they might not be energy efficient enough to offset the carbon loss from demolition and rebuilding, he says.

Construction-related activities account for around 11% of Ireland’s carbon emissions each year, according to the IGBC’s 2021 Carbon Roadmap for Ireland’s Built Environment.

“Primarily producing materials, transporting them, incorporating them into the building,” Barry said, and that doesn’t include the energy used to run the building itself, which accounts for 24% of the city’s carbon emissions. Ireland.

If a building was built to the latest standards, it uses as much energy to build it as to operate it for 50 years, he says.

Callaghan, looking up at her flat in Harold’s Bridge Court, says the duplexes are badly in need of refurbishment.

Heat from storage heaters in every room escapes quickly through poor insulation, she says. “They’re like Class E, or something, they’re so bad.”

Lynch says they could be refurbished and maybe added solar panels, rather than knocking them out.

“There would be no need to be all of a sudden and rebuild. But I guess maybe they want to switch brands and raise prices,” she said.

Adroit Company Ltd did not respond to questions about whether it had considered renovating or improving the flats at Harold’s Bridge Court, rather than demolishing them, or to questions about its response to comments that demolishing would not be in line to climate emissions reduction targets.

Barry says that in some cases it might be more climate-friendly to renovate buildings to high standards, than to tear down and rebuild.

“Even though it may be slightly less efficient than a new building, it will be extremely difficult to recoup the carbon you spend to build it,” he says.

However, if more housing is needed, it could end up using less carbon to build higher-density housing somewhere with good transport links, Barry says.

“You could triple the density, and it’s located somewhere with very good public transport. Well, in that case, it may make sense to tear down the buildings and rebuild them,” he says, because you save on the carbon that people use for transportation.

Declan Meenagh, a Labor Party councilor, said that for the city’s next development plan, which is the city’s planning bylaw, he argued for a motion against the demolition of buildings less than 30 years old.

“This requirement is to encourage people to build 200-year-old buildings instead of 30-year-old buildings,” his reasoning for suggesting the motion said.

However, the chief executive of the council said there were already policies in the development plan that greatly supported this.

Namely, the CA5 policy, which aims to “promote and support the renovation and reuse of existing buildings rather than their demolition and reconstruction where possible”.

Meenagh said he always would have liked his motion to go into the development plan. “I accepted the manager’s advice that what there was was strong enough.”

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