Thursday 18 September 2008

High-rise scheme 'would give economy €400m lift'

DEVELOPER Sean Dunne's ambitious high-rise project for Dublin would generate 5,000 permanent jobs and give a €400m annual boost to the country's economy, it was claimed yesterday.

Experts for the businessman launched a concerted pitch in support of the controversial project in the face of growing criticism of his scheme.

The An Bord Pleanala hearing into the project was told that the €1.48bn proposal -- which includes a 37-storey tower -- would create a new urban and cultural quarter in the city.

But there was a warning that international investors would go elsewhere if the project did not go ahead.

Submissions for some of the 36 objectors to the project have already been made at the hearing, which is expected to last another week.

Yesterday, engineering, architectural, planning and geological experts were called on behalf of Mr Dunne to extol the virtues and outline the economic and environmental impact of his skyscraper plan for Ballsbridge.

The businessman paid a record €380m for the seven-acre Jurys/Berkeley Court site in 2005, and while the council granted permission for a large part of the project, it crucially rejected his plans for the 37-storey tower.

Further details of those plans were spelled out on the seventh day of the public hearing in Croke Park, Dublin, by Marion Chalmers, a director of chartered planning consultants Declan Brassil & Co.

The project will take seven years to build and will provide 1,000 construction jobs over the life of the building work.

Included in the plans are more than 27,000 sq m of office space; embassy accommodation; a 232-bedroom hotel; 536 apartments; and over 14,000 sq m of retail floor space.

However, Ms Chalmers said that if the council's decision to strip out more than 27,000 sq m of office space was to stand, the number of new jobs created by the project would fall by more than 1,300, with a yearly loss of nearly €172m to the economy.


Civil engineer Donal McDaid of consulting engineers Arup said the project would create a new urban pedestrian-friendly quarter for Dublin.

With more than 1,300 car spaces proposed for the complex -- 804 for residents -- motorists using the buildings on the site would be introduced to a new concept of car storage. This would see the introduction of a Rotterdam-style car-stacking system for infrequent car users.

Architect David Slattery criticised some of the buildings surrounding the site and said that, with the exception of the American Embassy, they were "ugly and insensitive".

Should the proposal not go ahead, the area would remain dominated by Carrisbrook House, Lansdowne House and the "utter mediocrity of Hume House to the south", he said.

The hearing continues.

Fergus Black
Irish Independent

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