Sunday, 1 February 2009

Rejection of high-rise plan welcomed

OBJECTOR'S REACTIONS: OBJECTORS TO property developer Seán Dunne’s high-density plans for Ballsbridge welcomed An Bord Pleanála’s rejection of the scheme yesterday and called on Minister for the Environment John Gormley to investigate the handling of the application by Dublin City planners.

A number of objectors also said they bore no ill will towards Mr Dunne and were now hopeful of a “meaningful input” into any new plans for the landmark site.

However, the appeals board’s decision was described as “a loss to Dublin” by Construction Industry Federation director general Tom Parlon, who said the proposal had “cost a lot of time and money” and would not be easily or quickly replaced. Speaking on behalf of a coalition of 16 residents’ associations that had objected to the development, Valerin O’Shea said it was significant that the board had relied so heavily on the City Development Plan in rejecting the proposal.

The development plan was, she insisted, “a legal contract made with the people on which we are entitled to rely for the development of our city”.

She called for an inquiry saying the planners had rejected their own development plan.

“We believe that the experience in Ballsbridge has city-wide implications and we will be asking the Minister for the Environment to investigate the handling of this application by the Dublin city planners, and to find out why they forged ahead with, and actively encouraged, the developer to pursue permission which had no justification on planning grounds and which was in direct conflict with the expressed views of so many of our city councillors,” she said in a statement.

Dublin City Council said it never commented on individual applications, but a spokesman said it would “be studying the decision”.

Ballsbridge area councillor Dermot Lacey of the Labour Party said the board’s decision showed “the councillors stood 100 per cent behind proper planning and development of the area,” something he said for which the media rarely gave councillors credit.

Mr Lacey said there was a significant risk that large-scale developments that attracted rates and development levies for local authorities would result in “planning following the money”. He said he bore no ill will towards Mr Dunne adding “I like the man” and was hopeful of reaching a consensus on what should be built on the site.

The rejection of the Ballsbridge scheme was also welcomed by Fine Gael TD Lucinda Creighton and her party colleague, Cllr Pat McCartan. He said there should be talks with the local community “to devise a more appropriate and realistic proposal for the site”.

Objector Dominic Cassidy said he too bore no ill feeling towards Mr Dunne and would look forward to discussing the future development of the site, incorporating public amenities such as the former Jurys coffee dock.

Irish Times

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