Government signals willingness to purchase Aldborough House. State and City Council must now make it happen.

16 October 2023

Labour Senator Marie Sherlock has said that State and Dublin City Council cannot continue to leave Aldborough House in the heart of Dublin’s north inner city as a derelict building. She said that interest expressed by the Government in seeing the building brought to life must be made real.

Responding to Senator Sherlock’s questions to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform in the Seanad, the Minister detailed how discussions in 2020 between Dublin City Council and the OPW finished as it was not viable to develop Aldborough house as “a straight commercial proposition.” But he went on to say that “However, there would be a different economic analysis if this were considered as an urban regeneration project. If the project outcomes were anchored in issues such as societal change, reduction in crime, raising of confidence in the region, opening up a gateway for further development in the north inner city and the restoration of an important protected structure, perhaps there would be funding available. There could be an opportunity for Dublin City Council to explore this, perhaps with urban regeneration and development funding.”

Senator Sherlock said that while the expression of interest by the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform is positive, there is a real danger here that this project never actually goes anywhere such is the financial investment required for the building.

Senator Sherlock said:

“While this building remains in private ownership, there is an absolute onus on the State and Dublin City Council to ensure that this incredible derelict building no longer sucks energy out of Portland row despite the best efforts of communities there and that it is made a living building, contributing to the life of the inner city and providing desperately needed space for the community; for the arts, for childcare and for housing. We are acutely aware of the massive shortages of early years education spaces in the inner city, a significant number of services who wish to expand but cannot because of a lack of suitable buildings, there is ongoing huge shortage of supply of artists spaces and that is before we talk about the chronic affordable housing shortage in this part of the city.”

“In order to regenerate Aldborough House, I believe there would need to be commitments of URDF funding and crucially there would also have to be commitments of funding to operate it into the future. We understand that call four in URDF funding will open next year to provide funding to masterplan projects identified in previous calls. While there is already URDF funding to improve street lighting and the pavements in the Five Lamps area, it would be incredible and simply unacceptable that no efforts are made to regenerate the one of the most important Georgian mansion in Dublin  and the site of the first theatre on the island of Ireland.

“The North Inner City is riddled with dereliction, vacant homes and disused sites. If the Government is truly serious about tackling this scourge in our communities, then bringing Aldborough House on Portland row into use must be a priority.”

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