Historian Tom Spalding believes the Office of Public Works should seek to preserve the aesthetics of Cork’s riverside streetscapes when developing the Lower Lee Flood Relief Project.
He pointed to the use of toughened glass in a similar scheme along Waterford’s quays as an example of how this can be achieved.
Mr Spalding said that the artist impressions of the scheme, and the widespread use of concrete walls, are a cause for concern.
“Everyone agrees that something has to be done, and the people who have been working on this plan have been working on it for a number of years and I’m sure that they’re very competent and that they know what they’re doing. But aesthetically it is a bit of a car crash,” Mr Spalding said.
“Especially the view across Trinity Bridge, it looks like something from the Normandy beaches that the Germans might have thrown up to keep the Allies out. You wonder what the visual effect on things like the Holy Trinity Church is going to be.”
Mr Spalding said the plans seem to show little regard for the city’s historic railings and mooring posts. Most of the original railing has been removed over the years, but pockets of railing dating back some 200 years remain in places such as Fr Matthew Quay, along with mooring posts by Anderson’s Quay, Patrick’s Quay, and the Custom House Quay.
“Some of these mooring posts would be 150 years old; they were made in Cork by Cork companies and Cork men, and installed and maintained for hundreds of years. They can’t be replaced, there’s nobody manufacturing that kind of iron work in the city anymore. What are the plans for those? They are an important reminder of our maritime past,” Mr Spalding said.
He added that there is no need to remove the cast iron railings “if a creative alternative can be found” and that the robust fixtures can withstand flooding.
“What they are proposing is visually illiterate. I’m not saying it’s not required. I saw the flooding with my own eyes, I saw the businesses affected and we’ve had lots in the papers and on the radio about it. Only a fool would say ‘do nothing’. Barricades are probably a good idea but how they are handling it is not.
“Putting these lumpy barricades up will scar the city forever.”