Dublin City Council (DCC) has numerous functions: from housing; cleaning and maintaining our streets; and authorising urban developments. One of their most important functions is planning enforcement – this means that they it has a duty to police our planning laws effectively.
DCC has a mixed record on planning enforcement but, when it comes to Moore Street, it has allowed Hammerson to break numerous laws. Complaints have been made, received and never properly dealt with by DCC.
This curious inaction has led one business owner on Moore Street to question either the competence or motivation of DCC’s enforcement department in failing to take any action against the commercial property developer.
More than 50 valid complaints were lodged in relation to Hammerson-owned properties around Moore Street, and still DCC has taken little action. Since the planning enforcement process is long and drawn-out, by the time many of these complaints are determined, events will have overtaken them and the issue will have come to a resolution by itself. Even then, that does not mean that Hammerson should not be punished for any offences they might have committed.
If we just take No. 10 Moore Street as an example. No. 10 is a matter of mere weeks away from becoming a protected structure thanks to Councillor John Lyons motion, which he proposed seven years ago. While this process is nearing completion, we have learned that the party wall between No.10 and 11 has been knocked down within the last two weeks. Hammerson did not even bother to apply for planning permission let alone receive it.
Hammerson, the owners of No. 10, acknowledge that the building is an integral part of the battlefield site where the men and women of 1916, (including five of the seven signatories of the Proclamation), spent the final day of the 1916 Rising. No 10 is highly significant historically. Scandalously, this potential national monument has been seriously damaged, under the watch of the planning enforcement department of DCC despite being notified of damage at the time.
Aengus Ó Snodaigh TD, who has consistently challenged ongoing dodgy practices by DCC in relation to Moore Street, said: “When you look at the actions of Dublin City Council and the Department of Heritage over the last few years, it has not been working towards the best interest of the people of Dublin but the best interest of the shareholders of Hammerson. Moore Street has been run down under the control of these two state bodies and Hammerson. I cannot and will not allow that to continue as the area has huge potential which needs to be fulfilled”
Ó Snodaigh’s statement is supported by the fact that DCC has authorised a concentration of 21 second-hand phone shops in Hammerson-owned buildings on Moore Street, yet on Grafton Street they would not allow even a second ice cream shop as it would supposedly detract from the area. Such are the double standards in the planning enforcement system.
DCC has a number of powers at its disposal under the Planning and Development Act 2000, (as amended) and the Planning and Development Regulations 2001, (as amended). These allow for fines of up to €10 million for breaches of the acts and provide for the possibility of a jail sentences for those found guilty of offences under the acts – should DCC report such individuals to the Garda.
However, DCC shows no interest in investigating any unlawful damage done to historic buildings on Moore Street and ignores the mounting evidence that Hammerson’s actions could potentially be considered as offences under the law.
Why has DCC been so slow to act?