Friday 14 August 2009

Reprimand of council over high-rise Carlton site plan urged by An Taisce

AN TAISCE has called on Minister for the Environment John Gormley to reprimand Dublin City Council for granting permission for the high-rise Carlton development in contravention of statutory plans.

This follows a decision by An Bord Pleanála earlier this week to reject a large number of elements of Chartered Land’s scheme for the 5.5-acre site centred on the old Carlton cinema on O’Connell Street.

The development was approved by the council last December but was appealed to An Bord Pleanála. The board has yet to make its final decision on the project but wrote to Chartered Land last Monday advising that a number of elements were unacceptable.

Chief among these was a 13-storey building topped by a “park in the sky” which the board has told the developers to “omit”. It has also advised them to reduce demolition, reduce heights and use more traditional materials.

The board noted the scheme did not comply with the council’s planning guidelines for the area, which have statutory force. These include the Architectural Conservation Area and Area of Special Planning Control designations.

An Taisce’s heritage officer, Ian Lumley, said this called into question the credibility and competence of the council’s planners who gave permission for the scheme: “The planners and senior management have breached plans which have gone through public consultation and have been voted on by the elected councillors and it’s hard to see how their positions remain tenable.”

The Carlton scheme was just one of a number of “overscaled developments” the council had allowed which were then refused by An Bord Pleanála, he said.

An Taisce was calling on Mr Gormley to use his powers under the planning act to launch an inquiry into the actions of the council and to consider appointing a commissioner to take over the council’s planning functions.

A spokesman for the council said it did not comment on An Bord Pleanála decisions. A spokesman for the Department of the Environment said if Mr Lumley made a submission it would be given consideration.

Other opponents of Chartered Land’s scheme, including the National Heritage and Conservation Group, have welcomed the board’s rejection of the park in the sky.

Irish Times

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