Dublin’s planning system lacks “vision” and is turning the capital into an “ugly city”, Senator Michael McDowell has said.
As Ireland grapples with one of the worst housing crises in Europe, the Government has made it a priority to build more houses - and quickly.
Only today, Taoiseach Micheál Martin tweeted that 20,807 homes were completed nationwide in the first nine months of 2022 - something he labelled “real progress.”
However, while housing supply is most politicians’ primary concern, former Tánaiste Michael McDowell says people should be worried about the quality of what is being built as well.
“We really don’t have any vision for Dublin anymore,” he told The Hard Shoulder.
“I was pointing out that the system of planning permission is that if I have an acre, or half an acre anywhere in Dublin, I apply for planning permission [and] what I build doesn’t have to correspond for any overall vision for the street or for the community.
“It’s that which is destroying Dublin and making it into an ugly city.”
In generations gone by, architects and builders worked under strict regulations about what they could build; hence, why distinctive styles are common across a period.
Senator McDowell believes there is merit to such a system and singled out a number of the capital’s most well-known neighbourhoods.
“Whether you are talking about Mountjoy Square, Gardiner Street, FitzWilliam Square, Merrion Square,” he continued, "all of those streets were planned and there was a vision in mind for how those streets should end up.
“We instead now are just building ugly office blocks which bear no relation to each other - just stacking them up, here and there, across the city with no vision.
“It doesn’t have to be like this.”
He singled out Kevin Street, near St Stephen’s Green, as having been transformed into “ugly, depressing, miserable street” in recent years.
“Kevin Street, College of Technology, DIT, that site is being rebuilt with a 14 storey apartment blocks,” he complained.
“It’s a massive thing which bears no relation to the rest of Kevin Street.”
Main image: Dublin skyline. Picture by: Alamy.com