An Bord Pleanála has thrown out Dublin City Council’s proposals to permit only modest height increases in tower blocks for a strategic site in Dublin’s Docklands.
This follows the appeals board rejecting the city council’s proposed amendments to the 2014 North Lotts and Grand Canal Docks Special Development Zone (SDZ) Planning Scheme, which allowed for what the board describes as only “minimal" increases in building height in the area.
In its formal direction, Board member, Paul Hyde stated that the Board considers the city council’s proposed amendments “to be a missed opportunity to accommodate much-needed residential homes and commercial floor space for a growing and changing population, demographics and employment sector within the city centre on a strategic and well-serviced land bank”.
The board pointed out that the proposed amendments to the 2014 scheme provide for only an increase of 225 residential units and proposed increases in commercial floor space were equally restrictive.
Johnny Ronan project
Currently, developer Johnny Ronan has plans to build two 40-plus storey towers in the zone in his Waterfront South Central project and Dublin City Council planners have voiced their opposition against the plan as it claims it breaches the 2014 North Lotts and Grand Canal Docks SDZ planning scheme concerning building heights.
Now, in a stern rebuke to the City Council’s proposed amendments of the SDZ scheme, the appeals board stated that “options to consider greater housing provision within this strategic location have not been fully assessed and have not been realised”.
The board stated that of the 29 submissions received by the City Council, 21 sought greater height.
The board rejected its own inspector’s recommendation to allow the amendments after stating that it was not satisfied that the proposed amendments fully reflect national policy objectives to deliver compact growth and/or the promotion of height in the Urban Development & Building Height Guidelines given the very minimal changes proposed.
On behalf of the board, Mr Hyde stated that the fundamental intention of the Building Height Guidelines was not to introduce height for the sake of height, but to introduce and consider heights and densities as a means of accommodating greater residential accommodation within zoned land banks.
Mr Hyde stated that the board was concerned that the implications and potential impact of not facilitating meaningful population growth within the SDZ “could place greater demands to provide housing in locations further away from services and the city centre”.
In a submission, Dublin Chamber had stated that the proposed amendments by the Council lacked ambition while IDA Ireland stated that Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) would be promoted by maximising height, density and flexibility.
In response to submissions calling for increased heights over what was proposed, the City Council stated that its amendments were based on sound urban design principles.
A spokesman for Dublin City Council said on Wednesday that the council “will not be in a position to make a comment until we have fully reviewed the decision and the inspector’s report”.