Friday 9 October 2009

AIB contests Dunne's right to develop site

ALLIED IRISH Banks has challenged the legal right of developer Seán Dunne to seek planning permission for a major new office development at the AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge.

Mr Dunne has applied to Dublin City Council for permission to demolish four low-rise late 1970s office blocks at the front of the Bankcentre, opposite the RDS, and replace them with six new buildings ranging in height from seven to nine storeys.

AIB sold part of the Bankcentre to Mr Dunne’s Mountbrook Group for €207 million in 2006, but remained on as tenants.

In a letter to the council, RPS planning consultants, acting on behalf of AIB, said the proposed development broke the terms of the 2006 sale. In addition, part of the development involved lands never sold to Mountbrook that remained in the ownership of the AIB, it said.

The letter, which RPS asked the council to omit from the public planning file, states that the deed of transfer for the sale of the site specified a 26-metre wide plaza at the centre of the site be kept free of development.

However, it says four of the proposed new blocks encroach on this space, and in places the width of the plaza would be reduced to approximately 5-6 metres.

The letter acknowledges Mountbrook owns the site and the plaza but says: “the applicant does not have the legal right or interest to carry out the development as proposed. Our client has not given the applicant consent to propose the application insofar as it concerns lands over which our client retains a legal interest.”

The buildings in the proposed development are nearer Merrion Road than the current blocks. The letter states that AIB remains the owner of land between the existing plaza and Merrion Road and the development would encroach on this space. AIB has not given consent for Mountbrook to make an application for development on land which it still owns, the letter said.

The letter, dated September 30th, concludes by requesting the council to keep its contents confidential because of the details of the legal and commercial arrangements between AIB and Mountbrook. The council entered the letter on the public file yesterday.

The AIB submission is just one of several objections made to the proposed development. Aviva Investors, who also bought a portion of the Bankcentre from AIB have objected to the plans, as have An Taisce, several residents, and residents’ associations. Objections have centred around the height and perceived overdevelopment of the site.

Five of the proposed buildings have been designated for offices, while the sixth is to contain 12 large apartments. Mountbrook has described the scheme as a medium density development and says it will provide a far better working environment than the current buildings.

The application is one of two Mountbrook plans for Ballsbridge currently under consideration by the city council. Mr Dunne’s company last week lodged a fresh application for the site of the former Jurys and Berkeley Court, now D4 Hotels. A previous application which included a 37-storey tower on the site was rejected by An Bord Pleanála last January. The tallest building in the revised scheme is 15 storeys.

Irish Times

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