A look back at a recent positive heritage outcome at Thomas Street in Dublin's Liberties.

Credit is due to development company Hattington for the conservation and bringing-back-to-life of a group of historic buildings at Nos. 30, 32, 33, 34-35 & 36 Thomas Street including the former Frawleys department store. Having sat vacant and decaying for about a decade, the future of these buildings was in the balance, but they have now been successfully refurbished and upgraded for mixed use in conjunction with a new student housing development to the rear.

This type of work is too often shunned and avoided by the development sector but the rewards are there for all to see in the attractiveness of the overall scheme and in the revitalisation of the streetscape and neighbourhood, and it serves as an example of what can be done for other similar groups of vacant historic buildings around the city.

Incredibly, Dublin City Council planning department had granted permission to Danninger-Zoe back in 2008 for demolition of the entire group of Thomas Street buildings (at that time Nos. 32, 33, 34-35 & 36) and their replacement with a modern office building. This would have represented an unthinkable loss which would have left a huge void in this critical historic streetscape adjacent to the 18th-century landmark St. Catherine’s church, regarded as the finest classical church façade in Dublin.

The buildings were saved from demolition by the lodging of appeals to An Bord Pleanála by An Taisce and a number of other parties. (planning refs. 3202/08 & PL29S.231916)

A revised, 2015 application for the site by Hattington provided for the retaining and repairing of the subject historic buildings and construction of new blocks to the rear (planning ref. 2453/15). In the period between the two applications, Thomas Street had been designated a statutory ‘Architectural Conservation Area’, affording an increased level of protection to its historic building stock, and the application was approved with detailed agreement made between the City Council and the applicant on the conservation of the buildings.

All around, a considerate and holistic scheme which stands in contrast to the rapacious property speculation and construction which has sadly resumed in Dublin in the years since the economic crash.

See also: https://libertiesdublin.ie/thomas-street-a-terrace-reborn/

Some ‘Before and After’ photographs (Kevin Duff)

An old, white building on Thomas Street in disrepair Thomas Street lined with buildings, focusing on one newly redone red brick one