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Wednesday 27 August 2014

Council bid to rejuvenate Georgian heart of capital

Paul Melia Environment Correspondent

Published 21/02/2014 | 02:30

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Proposed changes to planning rules would encourage families to move back into Dublin’s ‘South Georgian core'
Proposed changes to planning rules would encourage families to move back into Dublin’s 'South Georgian core'

TAX breaks and creating pedestrian-friendly walking spaces are proposed to encourage families and young people to move into Dublin city centre.

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Planning rules should be relaxed to allow specialist shops including delicatessens and bookshops to open around Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square, which would encourage people to set up home in the city's 'South Georgian core', a report from the city council says.

The moves are needed because as many as one in five properties around Merrion Square is vacant, and the office market is "in retreat".

'The Future of the Georgian Core' report says there is now a "once in a lifetime opportunity" to deliver homes for people, including families and workers keen to experience city-centre living.

"Despite a doubling of its population in the last 15 years, the inner city continues to remain the home of extensive pockets of dereliction and underperforming urbanism. Attracting middle-income families back into the heart of the city would assist in consolidating, often fragile, residential living elsewhere in the city centre and inner city," it says.

While the South Georgian core extends across much of the southside, the study focused on Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square and adjoining streets.

Among the recommendations include changing the zoning to allow more residential use and opening of specialist businesses, reducing development levies to encourage conversion of buildings for residential use, and tax breaks for refurbishment schemes.

The ban on "shops" under the zoning includes bookshops, which would be suitable in basement spaces, and "serious consideration" should be given to allowing this. Other suggested changes in zoning could allow embassy offices, media services such as editing facilities and delicatessans.

It says the buildings are "arguably Dublin's greatest architectural and urban design setpieces", adding it is also an "oddly underperforming urban asset".

"Very few people actually live in the south Georgian core and its attraction as a desirable office market has steadily been eroded in recent years," the report says.

It also says that the pavements could be extended to create public plazas.

Among the recommendations include changing the zoning to allow more residential use and opening of specialist businesses; reducing development levies to encourage conversion of buildings for residential use and tax breaks for refurbishment schemes.

Irish Independent

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