ULSARA lies in the Electoral districts of Pembroke West and Rathmines East which were part of two Victorian townships largely residential in character.
Some of the provisions of the then Dublin Development Plan of 1968 caused alarm as it was recognized that this mature, settled and architecturally cohesive neighbourhood could suffer considerable damage if the provisions in the Plan were to be allowed to stand.
Concerned residents, who included Carmencita Hederman, Martin Reynolds an architect, Thomas Doyle a barrister, and the McDowell family, formed an Association, named the Upper Leeson Street Area Residents Association, to protect the status and amenity of the area. The Upper Leeson Street inclusion is quite apt as it embraces both the Pembroke and Rathmines elements of the area.
The major threat was the takeover of residential premises for office usage which would have quickly destroyed the very ambience which made the district attractive in the first place. The first Committee of the Association was famously successful in having the district rezoned for residential use only and so it remains to this day.
Nevertheless a period followed in which the Association battled with developers in the interpretation and implementation of the Dublin Development Plan and the Planning and Development Acts. Very many planning and appeal representations were made together with court appearances and street protests. In the fullness of time it came to be recognized throughout the city that the Upper Leeson Street Area was a "no-go" one if any unauthorized developments were to be contemplated.
The Association also had an interest in wider issues and actively opposed the proposal to use the Grand Canal as a route for a motor-way and the proposal to build an oil refinery in Dublin Bay. It also persuaded public utility undertakers to be more sensitive in the location of installations, particularly telephone poles on the footpaths of the area. They also lobbied on the matter of fees demanded in the Planning process. The Association has developed liaisons with neighbouring Associations which have proved very beneficial.
The nature of the Planning process would make it appear that the Association is simply reactive. However there were and are many proactive interests. The Association was influential in the formation of mews development policy in Dublin Development Plans and in the provision of public parks at Ranelagh Gardens and Dartmouth Square. The residents of Dartmouth Square were the first in Dublin city to adopt the Residential Disc Parking Scheme. Finally it is noted that the Association has never objected to residential development, per-se unless it was a case of gross overdevelopment.
The primary aim of the Association is to promote the conservation and preservation of the residential character and amenities of the neighbourhood, including the maintenance of green spaces, as well as the distinctive Georgian and Victorian architectural features of this area of Dublin, and to encourage the development of community life in the area.
The Upper Leeson Street Area Residents Association was founded in 1968. The Association draws its members from the catchment area of streets, lanes, and squares adjacent to Upper Leeson Street, which extends south from the Grand Canal in Dublin City.
Situated in or near Ranelagh and Ballsbridge, these include Appian Way, Dartmouth Square, Leeson Park, Northbrook Road, Leeson Park Avenue, Clyde Lane, Elgin Road, Heytesbury Lane, Pembroke Park, Pembroke Lane, Raglan Road, Raglan Lane, Warner's Lane, Waterloo Lane, Waterloo Road, Wellington Place, Wellington Lane and Wellington Road in Dublin 4.
On the map of Dublin the area encompassed by the Association is bounded by the Grand Canal, Baggot Street and Pembroke Road, Herbert Park and Ranelagh Road.