Actor Aidan Gillen and his partner, singer and actor, Camille O’Sullivan have criticised the country’s largest commercial property developer over attempts to change the name of a historic Georgian park in Dublin city centre.
The couple claim IPUT is attempting to rebrand Wilton Square, a small park in front of the company’s major, new high-rise office and retail development near the Grand Canal.
Gillen and O’Sullivan, whose home in Wilton Place overlooks the park, have strongly objected to attempts by IPUT to change its name to Wilton Park.
Gillen, who is best known for his roles in Game of Thrones, Love/Hate , Peaky Blinders and The Wire, said IPUT was engaged in “what feels like a big exercise in rebranding”.
He and O’Sullivan are among a large number of local residents who have also objected to controversial physical changes proposed by IPUT to the park.
Although Wilton Square, which is located between the canal bridges at Baggot Street and Leeson Street, is used by the public, it is in the ownership of IPUT.
The company has promised to allow it to remain open to the public but originally wanted to alter its existing layout and access points as well as to construct a pavilion/tea room in the park and relocate its existing fountain.
However, An Bord Pleanála ruled last year that IPUT’s proposed alterations to Wilton Square should be omitted as a condition for granting planning permission for its multi-million euro development and said a revised scheme for the park should be submitted.
Under its updated plans, IPUT wants to create several new entrances to the park and close one existing access point as well as remove a large number of trees.
However, the latest plans have omitted a tea room and propose restoring the historic fountain in its current location.
In a joint submission, Gillen and O’Sullivan claimed IPUT’s plans would interfere with the historic nature of the park and push it towards “a campus/business district feel”.
Although the couple welcomed some of the proposed design changes, they said they remained concerned about aspects of plans for the park as well as the loss of 16 parking spaces around the square.
They claimed the removal of a dozen trees was unnecessary and being done “for cosmetic reasons”.
O’Sullivan, who is also a qualified architect, questioned the need for four access points to the small park as well as their proposed four-metre openings which she feared was to facilitate vehicles.
The South Georgian Core Residents Association claimed IPUT’s plans, which smacked of a “vanity project”, failed to respect the historic nature and name of the square.
“It is inappropriate that Wilton Square has been unilaterally renamed ‘Wilton Park’ and integrated into the surrounding office or so-called campus development,” said the association’s spokesperson, Anna Devlin.
The group also claimed the park’s gates were not being closed at night which had resulted in problems with late night, anti-social activities in the area.
However, Dublin City Council has approved the proposed changes.
Council planners said the proposed changes to the historic park had been simplified and incorporated “a more mannerly and sympathetic design which respects the original layout”.
They claimed the additional entrances to the park were likely to create a more usable public space.
The council concluded that the proposed changes would “upgrade one of the most prominent locations in the city”.
IPUT said its vision for the neighbourhood was “to create a reinvigorated urban quarter centred around Wilton Park” providing office space for up to 4,000 workers, with arts and cultural events planned for the park itself.