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November 12, 2012

An Taisce creates ‘Buildings at Risk’ database for Dublin

An Taisce has published an illustrated ‘buildings at risk’ list for Dublin so as to document the large numbers of vacant or derelict historic buildings in the city, from landmarks such as the Iveagh Markets to the former Hume Street Hospital. The City Council urgently needs to take steps to protect these sites.

The property collapse has left a legacy of dereliction and abandonment in Dublin, where buildings and sites assembled for development are now left empty.

The City Council has powers under the Derelict Sites Act 1991 and Planning and the Development Act 2000 for Protected Structures to combat this large-scale dereliction of architectural landmarks and prime city streetscapes. However, the City Council has been ineffective in using these powers and this neglect will literally add millions to future refurbishment costs.

Concerted effort is now required to prevent Dublin’s return to the ravaged, derelict state which caused so much damage in the 1980. The time for taking action to secure a building is when is becomes vacant or when signs of vandalism or water damage appears, not after the roof has been allowed to collapse or the site becomes dangerous.

NAMA must address the maintenance of buildings in its loan portfolio, both Protected Structures and building stock generally. This is simply good commercial sense. Dereliction will bring about diminution of the asset value of the building itself and a blighting effect on the surrounding area which will in turn accelerate falling asset value.

New forms of innovation, entrepreneurship and property management structures are needed, particularly to find temporary uses for empty and derelict buildings. The example was set by CIE in the 1980s which created a vibrant quarter in Temple Bar. Instead of demolishing the streets and buildings, which it was assembling for the intended central bus station, CIE leased the space to artists and small business on a short-term basis.

This is a model that needs to be replicated across the empty building stock of the city at large and turns a challenge into an opportunity to create new uses and activities which will play a key role in the future regeneration of the city.