Friday, 12 September 2008

Cost of land cannot be a 'yardstick' for planning decisions

HIGH-RISE PLANS: THE PRICE paid for land cannot be allowed to become the “yardstick” by which planning decisions are made, Labour city councillor Dermot Lacey has told the Bord Pleanála hearing on developer Seán Dunne’s high-rise plans for Ballsbridge.

The decision of Dublin city planners to grant permission for the development of the former Jurys-Berkeley Court land, bought by Mr Dunne for €380 million three years ago, was “a gross act of defiance” against the wishes of the city councillors, Mr Lacey said.

“The intensity of the proposed development is apparently necessary because of the huge price paid for the land. If the cost of land becomes the yardstick for planning decisions, we might as well throw out all the planning laws and get rid of the development plan.”

The 37-storey tower was “completely out of character” with the area and two 15-storey towers had “no artistic merit whatsoever, they are simply blocks of concrete”, Mr Lacey said.

The Ringsend, Sandymount and Irishtown Environment Group said the tower was a safety risk.

“Because of the height of the proposed tower, there is a perceived danger to aircraft and explosion,” group chairman Damien Cassidy said.

Mr Cassidy told the hearing he was not satisfied the tower could be safely evacuated if there was a “calamity” on one of the upper floors. “It is believed that our fire service would be unable to reach people on the upper floors of the building,” he said.

Skyscrapers that were not yet built, such as the proposed U2 tower on Britain Quay, were being used by the developer as models for the 37-story tower, Mr Cassidy said.

If An Bord Pleanála was to grant permission to Mr Dunne it could cause “a domino effect” through Dublin 4 and greater Dublin, he added.

The Irish Times

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