Friday 31 August 2007

Dunne unveils his D4 dream that comes in at a sleek €380m

PROPERTY developer Seán Dunne has unveiled his revised plans for a controversial large-scale residential and commercial complex on the site of the Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels in Ballsbridge.

Mr Dunne confirmed yesterday that he has applied to Dublin City Council for planning permission for his proposed development, which will include a landmark 37-storey building in the upmarket Dublin 4 area.

However, planning experts believe the millionaire businessman will face huge difficulties in obtaining approval for the site under existing planning guidelines because of the sheer scale of the project.

Mr Dunne is seeking planning permission for 536 apartments, a 232-bedroom hotel, 14,000sq m of retail space including a department store, food hall, cafes, bars and restaurants. Other facilities include a cinema, craft gallery, theatre, gym, creche and ice rink.

The Carlow-born developer also hopes to persuade some of the existing 29 embassies located in Ballsbridge to move to a new embassy complex which will constitute 7% of the floor area of the development.

Mr Dunne’s application for planning permission is the latest chapter in his high-risk investment to turn the southside suburb into “Dublin’s Knightsbridge” after his firm Mountbrook Homes paid €379m for the site in 2005 — a record price for land in Ireland at the time of €54m per acre.

“Ballsbridge has for a long time been wrongly portrayed by some as a village, whereas in actual fact it is a national centre,” he remarked yesterday.

But the developer faces an uphill battle to persuade local politicians and residents about the merits of the scheme, which includes seven other buildings ranging from 10 to 15 storeys.

The proposed landmark tower which will be called One Berkeley Court is five storeys higher than Mr Dunne’s original design for the area. The diamond-shaped tower, containing 182 apartments, will stand at 132 metres — more than twice as high as Dublin’s Liberty Hall and 12 metres taller than the Spire on O’Connell Street.

Last June, Dublin City Council voted overwhelmingly in favour of rejecting the draft area plan put forward by city manager John Tierney, which would have allowed for high-rise developments of up to 20 storeys in the city’s embassy belt.

The ruling was seen as a major setback to some of the country’s wealthiest property developers, including Mr Dunne, Bernard McNamara and Ray Grehan.

Mr Dunne hopes to persuade planners of the benefits of the project by claiming 470 apartments, accounting for 88% of all residential units, will be family-friendly with an average size of 197sq m (2,120sq ft). However, an Irish Examiner survey shows that the average size of two, three and four-bedroom units in the development is actually 138sq m (1,485sq ft) based on figures provided by Mr Dunne.

The builder’s application for planning permission will widely be seen as a move to obtain planning permission before a revised area plan for Ballsbridge, which could place permanent height restrictions on buildings in the area, could be passed by Dublin City Council.

Irish Examiner

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