Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Deja Vu Again

A story from a week back in the Northside People outlined a local problem that I was facing. The issue was about the Old Station Masters house at Howth Junction Station.

Stay with me now...!

The building itself is not remarkable, but it is a handsome brick structure built in the 1890s and one of the very, very few historic buildings in the Dublin 5 and 13 postal districts.

It is also, importantly been on the Record of Protected Structures for Fingal Co Council since January 2006.

Yet it is literally falling down, with holes in the roof, open access to all and sundry to go in, covered in graffiti and being chipped away by local vandals. Surely, you may ask, part of the rationale on being placed on the Record of Protected Structures is to be "Protected".

So when I wrote an email to Iarnrod Eireann on the 1st February asking them to secure the site one would expect them to answer positively.

A few emails later and the relevant person, a Ms Joy Rogers replied on the 5th of Feb saying "My contractor has secured opes and lower roof areas. It is my intention to seek Fingal co co permission to demolish this dangerous structure."

Aside from wondering what a "opes" is (Anyone?), I was pissed with the comment that the structure is dangerous. Lets be clear here the building is in the condition it is in ONLY because, at best, Iarnrod Eireann don't care and Fingal County Council haven't forced them to address it.

Fingal County Council are supposed to apply the law and Iarnrod Eireann have eight weeks to comply. Since my email of the 1st February nothing has happened, except the building has become further damaged. Fingal have been useless, the officials I was speaking to protesting that they have already asked Iarnrod Eireann to comply. Its utterly pathetic.

I would go as far to speculate that this being a prime land bank location is informing their decision to allow the building to become an aesthetic and structural zit that Fingal will agree to remove it as a protected building and it can be demolished and the land sold off for apartments.

Fingal then get a few extra social and affordable units and a headache off their books.

This little local issue is so typical of the immaturity of Irish planning, it is infantile in its analysis of cause and effect and this example goes to show how far we have to go in terms of holding people to account.

Commentators and politicians like to think that the destruction of Georgian Dublin as happened in the 1960 and 1970 were an aberration. However the justification given then for the systematic demolition of entire Georgian streets was precisely the reason being given now, ie the building is dangerous. Well deja vu, and you know how many people seem to care; from where I'm standing, none.

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