Tuesday 6 October 2009

Planning board derails €100m Tara Street scheme

PLANS BY Iarnród Éireann to build a 60 metre-tall office block at Tara Street rail station, opposite the Custom House in Dublin, have been rejected by An Bord Pleanála.

The company had sought permission for the building as part of its €100 million redevelopment of the Dart and main line station, the second-busiest in the country.

The project was necessary to cope with increasing passenger numbers, and the office block was essential to the commercial viability of the scheme, the company said.

However An Bord Pleanála has told Iarnród Éireann that the proposed office building, because of its height and scale, would have an adverse effect not only on the Custom House, but the riverscape, streetscape, and the visual character of the city centre.

At 15 storeys, the building would be slightly higher than nearby Liberty Hall and almost twice the height of the Custom House. The development, which includes a glazed three-storey concourse and 10 storeys of office accommodation, has been designed by Canadian architects Adamson Associates with a “grain of rice” or “ship-shape” motif.

In a letter sent to Iarnród Éireann last Friday, the planning board has directed that significant changes be made to the scheme if it is to remain under consideration for planning permission.

Chief among these is the reduction of the main building to 49.1m (161ft).

The board has directed that other buildings in the scheme also be reduced by 11.7m (38ft) to correspond with the reduction in height of the main tower.

In its letter, the board said the building would “adversely affect the setting of the Custom House, a protected structure of primary national importance, and by itself and by precedent, unduly detract from the visual character and amenities of the city centre”.

It also criticises the layout at ground floor level, which it said “unduly restricts accessibility and circulation between the station concourse and the public realm”. It has directed that it also be redesigned.

Iarnród Éireann has until November 27th to submit new designs to the board. A spokesman for the company yesterday said it had only just received the letter and was examining it.

However during An Bord Pleanála’s public hearing on the development last July, Iarnród Éireann said the loss of any floors from the office tower would significantly reduce its commercial viability.

The application for the development was made directly to the board under the Strategic Infrastructure Act, which allows certain categories of development to bypass the local authority planning process.

Dublin City Council is opposed to the proposed development and has described the 60.8m (199ft) building as a “large slab form” sitting poorly in the skyline. It recommended that An Bord Pleanála reject Iarnród Éireann’s proposals.

An Bord Pleanála said it intends to make its final decision on the project by February 1st next.

Irish Times


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