15.17 - Public Realm

15.17.1         Public Facilities

Dublin City Council will support the provision of public facilities (e.g. public toilets and water fountains) within the public realm of the city. Large scale developments that seek to create new urban quarters and will be subject to taking in charge, will be encouraged to provide publically accessible facilities to support the functionality of these spaces.

The City Council will also encourage the provision of public facilities in the upgrade and improvement of existing public facilities, streets and spaces.

The design of public toilets should:


  • Be located in a busy and visible position to deter anti-social behaviour.
  • Have a level threshold or be accessible by ramp.
  • Include facilities for cleaning.
  • Consider the security and management of the facility with an attendant’s room strongly recommended as the best protection against antisocial behaviour. CCTV coverage can also be used but it should also be ensured that the privacy of users is not compromised.
  • Ensure all construction and fittings are secure, robust and vandal and graffiti resistant.
  • Avoid the provision of turnstiles that impede access.
  • Consider the provision of showers in some locations e.g. close to a beach.
  • Clearly signed with adequate direction signage in the surrounding area.
  • Provide a minimum of one wheelchair accessible unit and one unisex unit.
  • Provide baby changing facilities.

15.17.2         Public Lighting

Public lighting assists in providing a safe and secure environment. The Council will ensure that public lighting is appropriately and sensitively designed in order to balance the requirement for adequate lighting with amenity and environmental considerations (see Section 9.5.9 of the development plan). Where significant lighting proposals are proposed, the applicant must demonstrate that the quality environment in the surrounding area is not impacted and set out details of light levels and mitigation measures as necessary.

The provision of public lighting, including on public roads, shall be provided in accordance with the requirements of with the latest Public Lighting Standards IS EN13201 and further updates and should be designed to minimise the impact on protected species, such as light sensitive bat species in accordance with best practice, the National Parks and Wildlife Service (NPWS) Bat Mitigation Guidelines for Ireland (2006) and the Technical Guidance Note on Biodiversity for Development Management in Dublin City (DCC 2021).

Applications for new roads and / or public spaces should ensure that the area is appropriately lit for accessibility and safety. Development proposals for public lighting shall include:

  • Details of the column height, siting and location of the lighting.
  • Details of the specific lantern type and design.
  • Details of lighting specification including lighting class, lux levels and energy efficiencies.
  • Site lighting report to assess the impact of light overspill to the surrounding area. Site lighting should also be considered throughout construction period and the impact on the surrounding properties. Details of such should be included in the construction management plan.

15.17.3         Public Art

Public art can make a positive contribution to the cultural identity and visual appearance of an area and can be utilised to identify historic events and features adding to the quality and engagement of the public realm. The provision of artwork on hoarding will also be supported in accordance with the requirements as set out below. New public artwork should integrate with its immediate location and the context of the surrounding environment.

Proposals for public artwork should:

  • Consider scale, form and impact on the public realm, pedestrians and road users.
  • Illustrate a comprehensive understanding of site considerations, and the physical, social, historical, topographical and architectural context.
  • Provide for the highest aesthetic quality in terms of materials and finishes with low maintenance value.
  • Engage with the local community to enhance social relevance and significance.

15.17.4         Outdoor Seating and Street Furniture

Certain uses in the public realm, including elements of street furniture, can lead to problems of visual clutter and to obstruction of public footpaths for pedestrians, in particular people with disabilities. These elements include newspaper stands, telephone kiosks, traffic and bus signs etc. It is an objective of Dublin City Council to control the location and quality of these structures in the interests of creating a high-quality public domain.

All street furniture provided by private operators including retailers, publicans and restaurateurs, etc., and utility companies should be to the highest quality, preferably of good contemporary design avoiding poor historic imitation and respect the overall character of the area and quality of the public realm and be so located to prevent any obstruction or clutter of all footpaths and paved areas including landings.

In this regard, street furniture requires either a licence under Section 254 of the Planning and Development Act, 2000 (as amended) or planning permission (including street furniture erected on private lands). In both instances, the applicant is required to submit details of the location, design, specification and quality of the proposed elements of street furniture. Details of maintenance and cleansing schedules, together with a certificate of structural stability, may also be required. Street furniture should be designed to be accessible to disabled persons where possible.

In considering applications for outdoor furniture, the planning authority shall have regard to the following:

  • Size and location of the facility.
  • Concentration of existing street furniture in the area.
  • The visual impact of the structure, particularly in relation to the colour, nature and extent of advertising on all ancillary screens.
  • Impact on the character of the streetscape.
  • The effects on the amenities of adjoining premises, particularly in relation to hours of operation, noise and general disturbance.
  • Impact on access and visibility.

15.17.5         Shopfront and Façade Design

Shopfront design plays a key part in contribution to the quality of the public realm. Attractive facades and shopfronts have the ability to rejuvenate the streetscape and create an attractive public realm environment.

Shopfront signage should:

  • Be located at fascia level.
  • In the case of shop blinds, comprise traditional retractable canvas awning signs of Shopfronts and Other Business Premises.
  • The signage relating to any commercial ground floor use should be contained within the fascia board of the shopfront.
  • The lettering employed should be either on the fascia, or consist of individually mounted solid letters mounted on the fascia. The size of the lettering used should be in proportion to the depth of the fascia board.
  • Signage internal to the premises, including interior suspended advertising panels, which obscure views into the shop or business and create dead frontage onto the street shall not normally be permitted.
  • Corporate signs will only be permitted where they are compatible with the character of the building, its materials and colour scheme and those of adjoining buildings.
  • Advertisements and signs relating to uses above ground floor level should generally be provided at the entrance to the upper floors, in a form and design which does not detract from or impinge upon the integrity of the ground floor shopfronts, or other elevation features of the building.
  • Shopfronts sponsored by commercial brands will generally not be permitted.

Proposals for shopfront signage shall have regard to the contents of the Retail Design Manual, 2012, Dublin City Council’s Shopfront Design Guide, 2001 and the O’Connell Street Area Shopfront Design Guidelines, 2003, where appropriate. www.dublincity.ie

For further information on advertising and signage, please refer to Appendix 17.