Sunday 27 April 2008

Docklands deal went against area master plan

The Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) signed an agreement with property developer Liam Carroll allowing him to build taller buildings on the north quays in Dublin than was provided for in the master plan for the area.

The Brooks Thomas site is being developed as the new head offices for Anglo Irish Bank and law firm O’Donnell Sweeney Eversheds. Details of the agreement emerged during a court case taken by developer Sean Dunne and his company North Wall Quay Property Holdings against the DDDA and Carroll’s North Quay Investments (NQI).

The case centres on access to Dunne’s site, which is surrounded by the Carroll site. When Carroll first sought planning permission from Dublin City Council for the development of the Brooks Thomas site, the DDDA objected, saying the proposed eight storeys of commercial development on internal streets went against the North Lotts planning scheme, which required that such buildings be no more than four storeys high.

‘‘This would result in significant overshadowing of internal streets,” the objection said. Dublin City Council refused the application and, less than a month later, Carroll applied to the DDDA for a certificate to develop a similar scheme.

The DDDA and Carroll then reached an agreement on May 31 last year, whereby ‘‘the executive of the authority will recommend to the board that the application .. . be granted by the authority’’. Carroll was to give over part of the site for a public park as part of the deal.

‘‘The authority will continue to implement the necessary procedures ... to adopt a modified planning scheme for the North Lotts area which, once adopted, would enable NQI to apply for and obtain [a certificate] for an increased quantum of development, predominantly commercial on the site within 12 months of the date of this agreement,” it states.

The DDDA said ‘‘it is critical to NQI to obtain such a certificate or alternatively planning permission from Dublin City Council within the said 12-month timeframe in order to allow NQI to honour its commitments to certain prospective tenants at North Wall Quay’’.

Dunne’s company found that, although the authority knew ‘‘the development proposed was inconsistent’’ with the planning scheme, its director of architecture, John McLaughlin, was ‘‘satisfied that a development compatible with the planning scheme and satisfactory to Mr Carroll and his tenants can be agreed’’.

Sunday Business Post

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