Johnny Ronan's 40-storey tower in Dublin's Docklands is refused permission

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Johnny Ronan's 40-Storey Tower In Dublin's Docklands Is Refused Permission Johnny Ronan's 40-Storey Tower In Dublin's Docklands Is Refused Permission
An Bord Pleanála has refused Johnny Ronan planning permission for his planned 40-plus storey tower scheme for Dublin's docklands.
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Gordon Deegan

An Bord Pleanála has refused Johnny Ronan planning permission for his planned 40-plus storey tower scheme for Dublin's docklands.

The appeals board has refused planning permission for Mr Ronan's 1,005-unit Waterfront South Central scheme after concluding that it is precluded from granting permission after a High Court ruling last November.

The appeals board found that as a result of the High Court ruling by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, the board does not have jurisdiction to materially contravene the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Planning Scheme under Strategic Housing Development legislative provisions.

Mr Ronan's Waterfront South Central scheme is planned for a site within the North Lotts scheme. The scheme imposes strict height limits and the 44 storey and 45 storey heights proposed were well in excess of what is allowed in the area.

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The High Court decision concerned a case between Dublin City Council and the appeals board and another Johnny Ronan company, Spencer Place Development Company.

The appeals board stated that it agreed with its senior planning inspector, Rónán O’Connor stating that an oral hearing was required to address outstanding issues in the Johnny Ronan Waterfront South Central proposal.

Strident objection

In a strident objection, Dublin City Council planners told An Bord Pleanála that the tower scheme should be refused on a number of grounds.

As part of a 63-page planning report lodged with An Bord Pleanála, the planners stated Mr Ronan’s scheme represents overdevelopment and is "an inadequate design response to this sensitive site, would be of insufficient architectural quality, and if permitted would result in a poor placemaking outcome”.

The Council planners told An Bord Pleanála that the scheme if permitted “would negatively impact the receiving environment, in terms of daylight, sunlight and wind, and resulting in a poor standard of residential amenity for future residents”.

The Council has also recommended refusal as the proposed development would not be consistent with the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock SDZ Planning Scheme, which sets out specific height limits for the application site.
In its objection against the scheme, An Taisce's Kevin Duff told the appeals board that the impulse to construct two 40-plus storey towers “simply because Dublin does not have such buildings or because it does not look ‘international’ without them is ludicrous and is unsupportable environmentally".

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Mr Duff stated that the type of housing proposed in the scheme “is rarely affordable and most likely to end up as corporate letting with little or no contribution to the housing supply or the housing crisis”.

'Manhattan style project'

However, the Docklands Business Forum stated that labelling Mr Ronan as a ‘Manhattan style project’ is extraordinarily ill-informed.

In the forum's submission, chief executive Alan Robinson stated that the scheme would be only half the height of the 'Shard', London’s tallest building and would not even make the list for London's top 10 structures.

Mr Robinson told the appeals board that Mr Ronan’s planned 45 and 44 storey tower scheme “is modest in height” and should be given the green light.

Last month a spokeswoman for Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) said: “Our ambition for Waterfront ~South Central~ is to create a landmark new development for Dublin that sets the standard for responsible and integrated development as the greenest city quarter in Ireland.

He stated: “At a time of much-needed housing, Waterfront ~South Central~ will deliver more than 1,000 apartments, including 100 social housing units. Residents, the local community and the public at large, will have access to more than 6,000 square metres of community and public spaces throughout the scheme, including Ireland’s highest public viewing deck and restaurant, a visitor experience, cafes, crèche facilities, a farmers’ market, a bakery, and a waterfront townhall space that will be made freely available to the local community.”

Deeply disappointed

In a statement today, Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) said it welcomes An Bord Pleanála’s recognition that  the scheme for Dublin's Docklands "is the correct one for the site and would support Government policy on housing and development”.

However, RGRE added: “We are therefore deeply disappointed that it felt legally obliged to refuse planning permission due to Dublin City Council’s legal action seeking to uphold the Strategic Development Zone at the expense of the Government’s Strategic Housing Development policy.

The group stated: “Unfortunately Dublin City Council’s continued efforts to frustrate Government policy are impeding much needed development in this area of Dublin.” RGRE said “the current SDZ for the area is nearly 10 years old and is entirely incompatible with what is now required for the area”.

“Our ambition for Waterfront ~South Central~ is to create a landmark new development for Dublin that sets the standard for responsible and integrated development as the greenest city quarter in Ireland. At a time of much-needed housing, Waterfront ~South Central~ would deliver more than 1,000 apartments, including 100 social housing units. We will review this decision carefully and consider our options."

Dublin City Council has been requested to comment.

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