Tuesday 11 March 2008

Planners dash O'Brien's hopes for dream mansion

BUSINESSMAN Denis O'Brien is going to have to make do with his €35m Dublin 4 mansion for the foreseeable future.

Plans to demolish the home he bought two years ago and replace it with a 22,000 sq ft eco-friendly mansion have been shot down by An Bord Pleanala.

The telecoms billionaire, who bought Belmont, on Shrewsbury Road, in 2006 for a reported €35m, wanted to bulldoze the 100-year-old property -- designed by architect Stanislaus Orpen, a brother of artist Sir William Orpen -- and replace it with a home three times its size.

At the time, Belmont was the second most expensive residential sale in Dublin. The most expensive home in the capital, Walford, was sold for €58m and is across the road.

The 8,000 sq ft property, which sits on one-third of an acre on the country's most expensive residential street, has seven bedrooms, a swimming pool complex and putting green -- but is deemed to be "substandard" by the businessman.

He sought permission through an Isle of Man company, Grapedown Ltd, to build a detached 22,033 sq ft two-storey over-basement house, to include an indoor swimming pool, spa, staff quarters and six reception rooms.

The new house would be of a "high quality of architectural design and materials,and provide superior environmental standards", and its size reflected "changing requirements for contemporary living".

The house had been "significantly altered", had no historic or cultural value and did not make a positive contribution to the character of the streetscape, he claimed. He told An Bord Pleanala it was "sub-standard" in terms of layout, building regulations and building energy ratings, adding it didn't meet "the lifestyle and living standard requirements of persons likely to seek residence in this area".

But the board was having none of it. In its decision yesterday, it found that Belmont was a dwelling of "significant architectural, historical, cultural and social value", located on a road of "unique character" within Dublin City.

Allowing the proposal to go ahead would set an "undesireable precedent" for similar type developments in the area, which could alter the character of the area.

Mr O'Brien could not be reached for comment about the decision yesterday.

Paul Melia
Irish Independent


No comments: