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The Future of Kilmainham Mills
When Dublin City Council bought Kilmainham Mills on the Camac River, it was in “dilapidation and disrepair”, said council Project Manager Darragh Cunningham.
There’d been plans before the crash to build apartments on the site, which has a history dating back to the 16th century, but instead it ended up with NAMA.
Since the council got control of the site last December, it has been carrying out basic maintenance, he told councillors at a recent meeting of the South Central Area Committee.
They cleared drains to stop water pooling on the roof and fixed a water mains leak. The gates have new hinges, and foliage that was threatening to damage the brickwork was removed. There’s now a security system in place, too, he said.
The area around the site was also cleared of foliage, according to Cunningham, to allow for safer access.
The council has set up a steering group to look after the project. It’s applied for €200,000 from the government’s Historical Structures Fund, as part of a €551,000 initial investment, to pay for “emergency stabilisation works”, he said.
These works include propping up the floors, re-slating the roofs using reclaimed tiles, removing ivy from the outer building, and addressing drainage issues.
Cunningham also said they will look for significant investment from the government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.
But it would be another six months or so before they applied for that – after a plan for future use is in place, he said.
What will that be? The group is “quite unsure” at the moment, he said.
But he has been meeting with groups in the community, including the Save Kilmainham Mill Campaign and the Kilmainham Inchicore Network.
The steering group plans to visit the mills in the coming weeks too, said Cunningham.
A spokesperson from the council said the steering group “are planning to visit industrial heritage-related projects in the Dublin area to assess what is currently on offer and what works well”.
Later on, Cunningham said, there will be a consultation process to see what people think of the ideas the steering group comes up with.
Blocked-off Green Space
“It really needs to be on record that this shouldn’t be allowed,” said Sinn Féin Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh, at the recent South Central Area Committee meeting.
On 28 February, Dublin City Council granted permission to close off the green space of the New Mill student-housing complex on Mill Street in the Liberties to the public.
If a café that is the subject of a current application is given planning permission, the gate “shall be opened to allow pedestrian access, during the operation of the café”, the decision says.
Ní Dhálaigh said she was disappointed.
When the 406-bed complex got the go-ahead from An Bord Pleanála in 2015, one of the conditions was that its courtyard would remain accessible to the public during the day.
It was supposed to be a gain for the community, she said. “That little bit of green space.”
But in September last year, GSA Developments Limited applied for change-of-use planning permission to “restrict the use of the internal courtyard to the residents only”, according to the application.
Local residents at the time were concerned about the lack of student integration with the wider community, and the lack of green space in the Liberties.
“I know most councilors put in an objection to that,” said Ní Dhálaigh. “I was really disappointed when it came back to say that the developer is allowed to close off the public access.”
It’s unclear whether the ruling will be appealed. People who submitted observations when the development was originally proposed can submit an appeal to An Bord Pleanála within four weeks of the 28 February decision.
Dumping in Ballyfermot
Independent Councillor Vincent Jackson says he’s noticed a “proliferation of people leaving carrier bags of rubbish at bus stops, bins, outside the shops, outside of people’s street corners” that has “reached epidemic proportions”.
In a written question, Jackson asked the area manager for the South Central Area of the city to ensure the Cornamona site on Kylemore Road is “cleaned of waste” from “illegal dumping at this location”.
Executive Manager Mary Taylor said: “In relation to rubbish in carrier bags everywhere, our public-domain officer is, at the moment, very much focussed on doing door knocking in relation to whether people have a bin collection service or not, so she’s been doing a lot of work on that.
“It’s a hugely resource-intensive endeavour, and we’ll keep doing what we can. She’s out with litter wardens … it’s everywhere and it’s something we’re very aware of.”
According to the area manager’s report, a waste-bylaw enforcement programme “will be rolled out over the coming weeks to address the illegal dumping in the locality” of Ballyfermot and Drimnagh.
The public domain and area offices “have been working together to tackle” the issue of “large scale fly tipping/illegal dumping in the Cherry Orchard Area”, the report said, including with organised clean-ups.