Players Please highlights the importance of sustainable urban development

The former Player Wills tobacco factory has sat derelict on the South Circular Road since European restructuring moved manufacturing out of Ireland in 2005. However, locals are keen to ensure the history of the building is highlighted before the site is repurposed.

The Player Wills Factory on the South Circular road. Photo by Orla Whelan.

The ‘Players Please’ campaign aims to highlight the, “possibilities this amazing building holds as an innovative community hub and focal point for the site and area”, according to their Facebook page.

The campaign is a community run project whose main objective is to ensure the locals views are considered as plans for the site and the adjoining lands progress. They also want to call attention to the many photos that show the factory as a central part of the community’s history.

While there are at present no concrete plans for the site, Players Please want people to “imagine how the Players Factory could once again be an active part of people’s day to day lives in Dublin as a workplace, play place, social place, all the things it has been in the past and has the potential to be in the future”.

However, there is also a wider objective here. The community wants the site to be an example of sustainable urban development which can ultimately provide affordable housing for many people.

“New developments are far more than simply bricks and mortar. Where they are, how well designed and built they are and how well they knit into the fabric of existing or new communities, are factors which can, in a very real way, colour the lives of people on a daily basis and for future generations” said John Gormley, former Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government in a set of guidelines for Planning Authorities on sustainable residential development in urban areas.

“The objective is to produce high quality and crucially, sustainable developments: quality homes and neighbourhoods, places where people actually want to live, to work and to raise families, and places that work – and will continue to work – and not just for us, but for our children and for our children’s children,” he added.

The site is a total of 9.33 hectares owned by Dublin City Council and Hines. It is comprised of the Players wills site and the adjoining Bailey Gibson site alongside Dublin City Council lands.

The plans for the area of approximately 13 football pitches include housing, community and commercial uses, with a potential for around 1,050 housing units on the site. An area has also been highlighted as a suitable space for a large playing field.

Aengus Ó Snodaigh, TD for Dublin South-Central reflects many of the same sentiments as the ‘Players Please’ campaign.

“On the outline there are some concerns about the density. It’s a very basic draft but it could work because if a higher building is in the centre [of the site] then you aren’t overlooking the residential buildings and facilities. But if it doesn’t have the facilities like car parks and the likes, then you have to look at it from a different angle.

“By law they have to have open space but its whether the open space is concentrated into one area or if its spread out as grasslands along the road and paths. But they do have a lot of land like the old boys brigade pitches in Teresa’s Gardens and with their land you could have a park between the two areas even if it was a public park in the middle.

“I assume that’s kind of what the councillors and council planners are working on.

“They [Hines] presented a master plan of what could happen if there is an agreement with the council and the councillors”.

However, Hines can send their plans straight to An Bord Pleanala but, “sometimes if there’s a cooperation you can get a more even spread of housing across a larger area and you might end up with facilities of a higher standard.”

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