PLANS by developer Sean Dunne to build Ireland's first skyscraper in Dublin 4 have been dramatically shot down.
Dublin city councillors last night rejected outright a local area plan (LAP) for Ballsbridge that would have given the Carlow businessman the go-ahead to build a 20-storey apartment complex on the Jury's Hotel site.
Following a highly-charged debate where officials were accused of pandering to developers, all councillors bar one voted not to approve the plan, which called for 'landmark' buildings between 10 and 20 storeys to be allowed.
The decision will come as a bitter blow to developers, including Mr Dunne, Ray Grehan of Glenkerrin Homes and Bernard McNamara, who have spent millions acquiring land in the south Dublin suburb.
Upwards of €50m an acre have been spent acquiring some sites.
A spokesman for Mr Dunne's Mountbrook Homes said last night that the company would "consider its options".
"The site we have (Jury's / Berkerley Court) now reverts to the zoning it had when we bought it. In the light of the rejection of the proposed rezoning, we will consider that going forward," the spokesman said.
But planning sources said last night that the decision to reject the plan might not stop high-rise developments in the area.
A developer could still apply to build high-density tall buildings, and if a decision by the council to reject the application was appealed to An Bord Pleanala, the board might approve it given the area's close proximity to the city centre and good public transport links.
The draft local area plan voted down last night proposed increasing the zonings in the area to facilitate intensive development, and would allow 'district landmark' buildings of up to 20 storeys be constructed - two-and-a-half times the height of the tallest buildings already in the area.
The plan was put out on public display for three months and there were 266 submissions from the public.
However, councillors were very vocal in their opposition, with not one councillor expressing support for the plan.
The Labour group said it would apply the party whip compelling all its councillors to reject the plan, with claims made that the LAP was drawn up to facilitate developers.
"On behalf of the Fine Gael group we reject this in full," Cllr Gary Breen said.
"We're being asked to sign a blank cheque. This is the planning process in reverse, we're not responsible for the folly of a developer."
Fianna Fail's Michael Donnelly added there was 'no option' but to reject the plan given local opposition. His party colleague Deirdre Heney abstained from the vote.