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Capital planners urge block on Ronan’s towering ambitions

Words: Roger Milne
Dublin Docklands / iStock-959498524

Developer Johnny Ronan’s proposals for a 45-storey residential tower in Dublin’s docklands contravene both the capital’s development plan and the planning scheme for the docklands area and must be refused, say city planners in a strongly worded submission to An Bord Pleanála.

Dublin City Council claimed the planning agency did not have the jurisdiction to grant permission for the Waterfront South Central scheme on North Wall Quay because it conflicts with Dublin planning policy.

The developer’s latest bid to build the city’s tallest structure is the centrepiece of a huge housing scheme, which Ronan’s development company has submitted for fast-track approval from An Bord Pleanála.

The development would include 1,008 flats in three blocks – of 14, 41 and 45 storeys – which the Ronan Group said would be a “high-rise, mixed-use garden village in the heart of Dublin’s new riverfront district” with “distinctive hanging gardens, green walls and an urban forest” that would be a “green lung that will breathe new life into the docklands”.

Last October the developer lost a long-running court battle with the council to secure permission for a 13-storey building known as the Salesforce tower, farther west on the north quays, because it exceeded the plan’s maximum height rules for the docklands area.

In a letter to the board, the council said the “proposed heights very significantly exceed the maximum planning scheme heights of eight-storey commercial or 10-storey residential. This is a very significant concern”.

In its application to the board, Ronan’s company maintains that the heights are justifiable on the basis of national policy, following ministerial guidelines issued in December 2018 which removed blanket numerical limitations on height.

However, the council has told An Bord Pleanála there is nothing in the ministerial guidelines to suggest that they were intended to override the planning scheme; rather they required the council to amend its planning scheme to reflect the new guidance on building height.

The council submitted its proposed amendments to the dockland’s planning scheme more than a year ago, but the board has yet to issue a decision.

Image credit | iStock