Saturday 26 July 2008

Ballsbridge tower would benefit city, says council official

THE DEVELOPMENT of a 15-storey tower block in Ballsbridge would increase Dublin’s competitive edge economically, culturally and socially, a city planner has said.

Mary Conway, acting deputy planning officer with Dublin City Council, told an An Bord Pleanála hearing that the proposed tower is of “exceptional architectural and urban design quality”.

“It is considered that the overall design strategy will help create a high-quality environment that will prove attractive for living, work and leisure,” she said.

The proposed development has been strongly criticised in the Ballsbridge area, with objections from 24 residents groups on grounds of its height, architecture and potential environmental impact. Ms Conway said the application was “compliant” with the Dublin City Development Plan.

“The heights would not differ significantly to that already in the area and therefore would not have a detrimental or negative impact on architectural character or visual amenities of the area,” she said.

The tower, which would be located on the former site of the UCD Veterinary College, is being proposed by Ray Grehan of Glenkerrin Homes, which paid more than €171 million for the 0.825 hectare plot three years ago.

Plans for the 52-metre building, which would be named Number 1 Ballsbridge, include 109 apartments, 20,000sq m of office space, a number of retail units and a cultural centre.

The site is adjacent to the Jurys/Berkeley Court hotel site which is owned by property developer Seán Dunne, who is planning a €1 billion high-rise development.

When questioned by planning inspector Tom Rabbette as to why a new plan had not been devised, Ms Conway said councillors seemed to have been swayed by public opinion in their decision and did not seek amendments to the proposal.

“There was a groundswell of local opinion against the plan . . . the councillors went with that,” Ms Conway said.

“I believe there was no desire to compromise, the councillors were not prepared to work with us.”

The hearing is expected to conclude today.

The Irish Times

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