St Stephen’s Green Metrolink station threatens ‘priceless’ historic asset, Heritage Council says

Station could ‘compromise one of city’s most noted cultural heritage anchors’, State advisory body says

Metrolink Dublin Olivia Kelly feature

The planned Metrolink station at St Stephen’s Green has the potential “to compromise one of the city’s most noted cultural heritage anchors” and irrevocably alter one of the few “quiet oases” in the city, the Heritage Council has said.

The State’s heritage advisory body has told An Bord Pleanála’s hearing on the €9.5 billion rail line it is concerned “construction efficiency” is being prioritised over the “priceless and irreplaceable” cultural heritage amenity of St Stephen’s Green.

The Heritage Council said it shared the concerns of the Office of Public Works (OPW) and other heritage organisations of the effect of the station construction, and its permanent impact once completed, on the historic park. The OPW last month told the hearing construction of the station must not be “at the expense of Ireland’s national heritage”.

Shay Kelleher, planning officer with the Heritage Council, said it was concerned by the “significant excavation work” and “immediate and irretrievable loss of mature trees – 64 to be felled in all”.

Metrolink Dublin Olivia Kelly feature

This removal of trees would be “highly disruptive to the character of the park, not to mention the buffer they provide to the surrounding road network”, he said.

He noted that Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) intended to undertake “compensatory planting” but questioned “if it were in fact possible that this historic treed landscape would ever re-establish”.

The station development would “undoubtedly alter the landscape and historical layout of the park. The cultural heritage amenity of St Stephen’s Green is priceless and irreplaceable as a quiet oasis in the city centre, and one of its few green spaces.”

Mr Kelleher noted the park’s place in history, given as a gift to the city by the Guinness family, and its importance to the events of the 1916 Rising.

“This importance is irreplaceable and the current proposals we believe have the potential to compromise one of the city’s most noted cultural heritage anchors,” he said. “The Heritage Council therefore strongly recommends TII and An Bord Pleanála endeavour to ensure that heritage protection is not compromised in favour of construction or project management criteria.”

The Heritage Council “believes it is necessary that the metro line is built for Dublin” and that there was a need for a stop in “the St Stephen’s Green area”, he said, “but there is equally a need to protect heritage and ensure the integrity of the national monument at St Stephen’s Green”.

Dr Ronan Hallissey, representing TII, said it recognised the importance of St Stephen’s Green. “What demonstrates that maybe more than anything is that there have been multiple phases of options assessment undertaken to arrive at the preferred station location here”.

TII had tried to “avoid the green where possible”, he said. “There has been a lot of analysis here and a lot of different phases considering all of the criteria and on that basis, reluctantly it has to be said, TII have identified a station box option that would during its construction phase impact on 5 per cent of the area of the park”.

Read More