The Disney Store in Dublin has secured the green light for contentious plans for a new security gate to stop rough sleeping in the doorway at its Grafton Street store.
This follows Dublin City Council granting planning permission to the Disney Store for the gate after the retail arm of the global entertainment giant lodged revised plans for the security gate for 60-61 Grafton Street.
In an objection against the plan, volunteer in the homeless sector and Dublin-based architect, Enda Fanning, argued that “the proposed industrial security gates are a gross overreaction to the current situation”.
In a submission lodged with the Council, Mr Fanning contended: “For a company such as Disney to use a planning application to simply ‘move on’ a problematic issue rather than making an effort to engage on the issue with those working in the area of homelessness is unfair and unhelpful to the overall problem. It is of no assistance to the local community.”
For many thousands such recessed doorways across the city and country are the only hope of a bed for the night.
The Council last December put the plan on hold stating that it had a concern with the materials proposed and requested revised plans.
In response, the Disney Store lodged revised plans and the Council planner in the case stated that the new drawings show “a bespoke design for the proposed gate” and recommended a grant of planning permission.
The Council planner’s report found that the Disney Store has addressed the concerns of the Council with the proposed new security gate design which accords with the Council’s shop front guidelines and the Grafton Street Architectural Conservation Area (ACA).
The planner said that the revised bi-folding steel gate is considered acceptable and also said that the Council noted the need for security for the recessed entrance.
In planning documentation lodged by consultants for the Disney Store, CBRE, they contended that there has been an “improper use of the doorway” at the Disney Store.
They said that “staff members of the Disney store have observed the recessed doorway as being used by the homeless for sleeping, alongside apparent drug use being reported”.
The submission continued: “This activity has exposed the Disney staff to threatening behaviour and confrontation. Due to this, gardaí have been contacted on multiple occasions to deal with this anti-social behaviour.”
CBRE said that “these occurrences have affected the entrance and egress of both Disney Store staff and customers. We believe that there is a strong justification for the proposed works.”
However, the plan did face opposition from Churchtown resident, Enda Fanning.
Mr Fanning objected to the justification put forward on behalf of the Disney Store “for the fixing of any industrial security gates to any shopfront on Grafton Street”.
Mr Fanning told the city council “a false impression has been given that there is constant improper use of the doorway”.
He added: “As somebody who has worked in a voluntary role with those who are homeless, including those along Grafton Street, any inconvenience can be caused occasionally at shop opening time when a homeless sleeper might have to moved on.”
Mr Fanning said that he strongly urged the council to refuse planning permission.
Commenting on the outcome today, Mr Fanning said he was “disappointed” to see that the council granted planning permission.
Mr Fanning urged the Disney Store to liaise with homeless charities such as Inner City Helping Homeless "and be helpful to the homeless and local community rather than putting up barriers without discussion".
Mr Fanning now has the option of appealing the decision to An Bord Pleanala and stated that he has not yet decided on appealing but will give it some thought.