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Decision on ESB Georgian revamp set to be deferred

A CRUCIAL vote on the redevelopment of the ESB's Dublin headquarters is likely to be deferred tonight as councillors don't want to "railroad" through a decision.

Dublin City Council is due to vote on whether the ESB should restore a Georgian facade at its Fitzwilliam Street Lower offices.

A large number of historic townhouses were demolished in 1965 to facilitate the construction of the power company's headquarters, breaking the city's 'Georgian Mile' in the process.

The current City Development Plan has as one of its objectives the reinstatement of the facades.

Dublin city manager Owen Keegan last week supported the removal of this obligation, in favour of an objective to promote a building of "exceptional urban design".

The proposed new clause states that any new complex should complement the Georgian streetscape in "the rhythm of windows and doors", the "proportion and scale of the ground-floor storey to the upper storeys" and the "quality and craft of material and finishes".

PRESENTATION

Fine Gael councillor Paddy McCartan has said he will be seeking a deferral of tonight's vote, so that the ESB can give a presentation to all members of the local authority.

"I'm a little bit concerned that we would be seen to be railroading this through without consultation," he told the Herald.

Labour councillor Mary Freehill will also be looking for a postponement.

"We're going to ask for it to be deferred," she said.

"We're still talking to the ESB."

Asked to comment on Mr Keegan's intervention, Ms Freehill added: "It's our business, the councillors vote on that, not the manager."

In a report, Mr Keegan described the policy of reinstatement as "excessively rigid".

He said changing it "will facilitate greater clarity and consistency in the future development of this historic area of the city".

Late last year, the ESB revealed plans to redevelop its offices, replacing it with a landmark-type building which would be energy efficient, though a planning application has yet to be lodged.

The current HQ was built to a design by Stephenson, Gibney & Associates in the late 1960s, following a granting of permission in 1964.

comurphy@herald.ie


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