Tuesday 11 March 2008

Dublin planners prepared to allow high-rise building in Ballsbridge

DUBLIN CITY Council's planners have made it clear to developer Sean Dunne that they are prepared to grant permission for a high-rise "landmark building" on the Jurys site in Ballsbridge in place of the 37-storey tower omitted from the current scheme.

"It is the strong view of the planning authority that a landmark building of architectural excellence is required at this location, and equally that the building be of sufficient scale to act as a landmark," according to a report by senior planner Kieran Rose.

Referring to the junction of Pembroke Road and Lansdowne Road, where the 37-storey tower had been proposed, he says the planners "would consider by way of a new planning application a building that meets these criteria on this part of the site".

However, Mr Rose's report makes it clear that it was not open to the planners to permit the proposed tower "despite the many positive aspects of the taller building, and having regard to the lack of sufficient policy support for a building of 37 storeys".

In its decision to grant planning permission for the proposed development, the council also omitted a 10-storey office block on the basis that it was "neither permissible nor open for consideration" under the existing Z1 residential zoning.

However, it approved six other buildings in the scheme by Danish architects Henning Larsen, including four blocks containing a total of 294 apartments, a 232-bedroom hotel, an embassy building, cultural centre, crèche and district shopping centre.

The proposed cultural centre, on which Gate Theatre director Michael Colgan is the adviser, would include an art gallery, an "eclectic" cinema, a photographic gallery, a performance space, rehearsal and artists studios and a "centre for European culture".

The embassy block would provide 13,250 sq m of office space for embassies.

Billionaire financier Dermot Desmond - who was one of some 150 objectors - has warned that such a building would be "a sitting duck for a potential terrorist attack".

The tallest building approved for the Jurys-Berkeley Court hotel sites, which Mr Dunne agreed to purchase in 2005 for €379 million, would rise to 18 storeys on the Shelbourne Road frontage, while the lowest would be nine storeys.

The decision, which was subject to 27 conditions, specified that the three apartment blocks on the Lansdowne Road frontage be reduced in height from 11 to nine storeys to provide "a more harmonious relationship" with Victorian houses opposite.

Omitting the proposed 37-storey tower, which would have contained 182 apartments, and lowering the height of the Lansdowne Road blocks have resulted in cutting the number of apartments in the scheme from 536 to 294, a reduction of over 45 per cent.

Given that Mr Dunne has said his company, Mountbrook, intended to submit a revised application for the landmark tower - unless it gets approval for it from Bord Pleanála on appeal - it would be possible to recoup a large proportion of the omitted apartments.

The Irish Times


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