DUBLIN City Council has described a controversial development by builder Sean Dunne on the former Jurys and Berkeley Court site as having "exceptional architectural and urban design quality".
However, the local authority reasserted that the 37-storey centrepiece tower, which was refused planning permission, could not be allowed as there is no city planning strategy to include the proposed building, which is 16 metres taller than O'Connell street's Spire.
Yesterday was the first time representatives from the council took to the stand in the ongoing Bord Pleanala hearing following Mr Dunne's appeal to keep the tower in the contentious development.
Earlier this year the local authority granted permission for most of the development, although the builder says the tallest block is essential to plans for the site.
A number of residents have argued that the whole scheme is in contravention of the city's development plan, which runs to 2011.
However, yesterday council planner Mary Conway said the parts of the development which were given permission were compliant with the plan and would increase the capital's "competitive edge, economically, culturally and socially".
Mr Dunne paid a record €380m for the seven acre Ballsbridge site and has ambitious plans including a hotel, shopping centre and hundreds of apartments among others uses.
Earlier, town planner Ann Mulcrone of Reid Associates, speaking for a number of residents opposed to the scheme, said An Bord Pleanala can refuse permission on the basis that the development is a material contravention of the development plan.
If the tower were to go ahead, it would set an "extraordinary precedent" for future developments in the city as well as being an "apocalyptic prospect".