Thursday, 2 October 2008

Dunne awaits ruling on high-rise 'dream'

DEVELOPER Sean Dunne took the gamble of his life to build a "shining city" on the hill but it was a dream not shared by planners or the people who lived in Ballsbridge, it was claimed last night.

Counsel for residents of the south Dublin suburb who have objected to the businessman's €1.4bn high-rise development project said Ballsbridge was not Knightsbridge and the people of the area had no wish to live in such a setting.

Barrister Colm MacEochaidh, who represented 21 parties, including 11 residents' associations in the area, appealed for the entire project to be rejected as a 15-day Bord Pleanala hearing into the scheme concluded last night.

But counsel for Mr Dunne accused councillors of "making a political football" out of the application and of being "beholden" to lobby groups and a handful of residents.

His remarks were rejected by senior counsel for Dublin City Council, who insisted councillors had acted property in carrying out their duties. Hearing inspector Tom Rabbette will now report to the board which is expected to give a ruling on the project in mid-November.


Mr Dunne is seeking permission for the massive development which includes a 37-storey 136m tower together with retail, residential and office development on the seven-acre site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels.

Earlier this year Dublin City Council granted permission for the bulk of the development but refused permission for the landmark tower and the office element of the scheme.

The businessman appealed to An Bord Pleanala where more than 36 appeals against the development were lodged -- including one from financier Dermot Desmond. However, another 90 appeals supported Mr Dunne's project.

In his closing statement to the hearing, Mr Dunne's counsel Michael O'Connell described the project as unique and said it was located in one of the most desirable urban residential districts in Ireland.

The project represented an unique opportunity to replace the dated series of hotel buildings with excellent modern architecture and to return a substantial portion of Ballsbridge to permanent residential use. But granting permission while refusing permission for the landmark tower would be like removing the principal chapter from a book.

Fergus Black
Irish Independent

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