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Will Parnell St go east as new Chinatown?

A CITY centre zone could be revitalised if it was turned into an oriental quarter, showcasing Asian architecture and food, according to a new report.

Dublin Civic Trust says Parnell Street East has suffered from "decline and urban blight" for three decades.

However, in a document submitted to Dublin City Council, the trust believes the trend could be reversed through fostering the development of a Chinatown in the district. It describes the area as "one of Dublin's more forgotten secondary commercial streets".

"For many Dubliners the street has been an area of decline and urban blight for much of the past 30 years but recently the growth of new oriental businesses on Parnell Street East have given the street a new vitality and vibrancy," the trust says.

It sets out a "roadmap" to develop the street as Dublin's Oriental Food Quarter in a block bounded by North Cumberland Street, Marlborough Street and Cathal Brugha Street.

Included in the vision are "restored and rejuvenated streetscapes", improved public spaces, quality shop fronts and businesses and a "greater connection to the surrounding cultural attractions of the North Georgian City".

Speaking to the Herald in April, Benjamin Wen, the owner of Mitsuba restaurant on Parnell Street, said the area had "improved a lot from image and safety points of view" in the past few years.

"The street used to be a very messy street, but now it's getting better. If we can improve a better image of our street and upgrade the street it would be better also."

Wider footpaths, redesigned shop fronts, outdoor seating for restaurants and more street lighting are all recommended.

The report criticises the council's planning enforcement in the area, saying some businesses change the use of buildings or carry out works without permission. Describing its history, the trust says Parnell Street East, running from O'Connell Street to Gardiner Street, was first developed in the mid-1700s as part of the Gardiner Estate in the north city.

However, the origins of the street lie further back in time as a medieval road connecting the lands of St Mary's Abbey to the village of Ballybough and the coast, it adds.