Friday 30 January 2009

Dunne plans revised application for Ballsbridge high rise

Businessman Sean Dunne said this evening he would submit a revised application to develop the Ballsbridge site after his controversial €1.5 billion high rise development was rejected by the planning authorities.

In its ruling, announced earlier today, An Bord Pleanála said Mr Dunne's proposed scheme represented a "gross overdevelopment" in the area.

Mr Dunne paid €450 million for the Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels and an adjoining site in Ballsbridge in 2005.

Mr Dunne had sought permission for residential, retail and office development on the seven-acre site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court hotels.

The city council earlier this year granted permission for the bulk of Mr Dunne's development last March but refused permission for the 28,000sq m of offices proposed and a 37-storey 136-metre tower. Mr Dunne appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

Rejecting the appeal this morning, An Bord Pleanála said: "It is considered that the proposed development, by reason of its scale, massing and height (notwithstanding the high quality of the architectural treatment of the individual buildings), would constitute gross overdevelopment and over-intensification of use of the site, would be highly obtrusive, would seriously injure the visual amenity of the area and would constitute an inappropriate design response to the existing context of the site, making a radical change in the urban form of the area, at odds with the established character of Ballsbridge."

An Bord Pleanála said the plan would have a significant adverse impact on the streetscape and on the setting and amenity of existing buildings in the vicinity. It also said it was not satisfied that the development "would bring about a high quality environment for future occupants."

In a statement released this evening, Mr Dunne's property firm Mountbrook said it was "very disappointed" by the decision but it would consider An Bord Pleanála's ruling before submitting a revised application.

"The proposed development would have broken the mould for Ireland in terms of providing a high class mixed use development on this strategic site," it said.

"The significant economic benefits and job creation opportunities of the proposed development would have created a much needed boost to Ireland in these current harsh economic times.

The proposed development represents four years hard work, €15 million in professional fees including the commissioning of an international architectural competition resulting in a world class design by Henning Larsen Architects," it said.

The firm also said the company was "disappointed for the Ringsend and Irishtown residents as the proposed development provided for a new community centre in Ringsend including sports hall, 100 place creche, day care centre, youth club, including offices and health services."

Some 36 appeals against the development were made to the An Bord Pleanála board, including one from financier Dermot Desmond, while an unprecedented 90 appeals were made in support of Mr Dunne's scheme.

During the hearings on the proposals, Dunne's scheme was described as 'oppressive and monolithic' by barrister Colm MacEochaidh, who represents 21 appellants opposing the high-rise plan.An Bord Pleanála Also heard claims that Mr Dunne orchestrated a large-scale letter-writing campaign to persuade Dublin City Council to grant permission for his high-rise development.

Fine Gael described today's judgement as a victory for the local community.

"This development should never have been considered in the first place. It was the wrong development for the wrong place at the wrong time," said Lucinda Creighton, Fine Gael Dublin South East TD

“This proposal was totally out of character with the local area. Dublin City Council’s decision to give it partial permission highlights the lack of vision or a coherent plan for the future of Dublin City. It also shows that the City Council is prepared to grant planning permission for developments in flagrant contravention of the City Development Plan," she added.

The Green Party’s representative in the area, Dave Robbins also welcomed the decision to refuse the application.

"Hopefully, this decision will send out a signal that the era of developer-led development in our city is at an end. The time for proper, sustainable, transparent planning is now," said Mr Robbins.

Mr Dunne recently told the New York Times newspaper that he believes his ambitious plans for Ballsbridge can still succeed, despite the recession and property market crash.

As well as the Jurys/Berkeley Court site, Mr Dunne owns Hume House, also on Pembroke Road, which he bought for €130 million and where he hopes to build a 14-storey office block.

Irish Times

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