Saturday 26 July 2008

Office plan 'beggars belief' for residential amenity area

THE OFFICE element of a 15- storey tower proposed for Ballsbridge amounts to 15 per cent of the total office space completed in Dublin last year, a Bord Pleanála hearing heard yesterday.

Plans for the building, on the site of the former UCD veterinary college, include a 15-storey tower, apartments, office blocks, shops and cultural centres.

The scheme put forward by developer Ray Grehan's Kintene Ltd was approved by Dublin City Council in February. Mr Grehan paid more than €171 million for the 0.825 hectare site three years ago.

However, at a Bord Pleanála appeals hearing yesterday, barrister Colm Mac Eochaidh said it "beggars belief" that the developer should seek such a level of office space in an area which was zoned for the improvement of residential amenity.

Mr Mac Eochaidh said the issue raised the question of whether the entire development should be considered a material contravention of the city development plan - a move which would mean permission would have to have been granted by Dublin elected councillors, rather than the authority's planning staff.

Mr Mac Eochaidh said he believed the council's planning staff were "in a huff" because the elected councillors failed to adopt a local area plan for Ballsbridge which would have opened the way for high-rise development on the veterinary college site, as well as the D4 Hotels site, formerly Jurys and the Berkeley Court, next door.

He said the issue of planning permission for the veterinary college site and the hotels site represented "the local area plan by the back door" and said the elected members of Dublin City Council were very angry about this.

However, planning consultant Colin McGill, for the developers, insisted the planning application "did not seek to take advantage of the abandoned local area plan". He said the application had been grounded in what was proper planning and sustainable development.

Mr McGill said the 15 per cent figure related only to office space which had been completed in Dublin in 2007 - not that which was under construction or that which was already developed.

The Irish Times

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