Office block proposal refused over €4.5bn Dart plan

A decision to refuse planning permission for a large-scale office block in Dublin as it could jeopardise plans for the €4.5bn Dart underground has been branded unreasonable and unnecessary by the developer.

An artist's impression of the Dart underground station.

Rails Investment, a Maltese-registered firm which wants to build the five-storey building at the rear of Pearse St railway station, has appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

Planning permission for the development was refused by Dublin City Council in November on the basis the proposed building on Sandwith St could interfere with the site of a proposed metro station for Pearse St.

The Dart Underground Office (DUO), a division of Iarnród Éireann, said the site was critical for the construction of what is one of the key hubs in the Government’s blueprint for linking up Dublin’s main railway stations with the light rail network.

The DUO said revised plans submitted by Rails Investment during the planning process lacked sufficient technical details to justify the company’s claim that the office block could be built without compromising the future development of an underground station.

Iarnród Éireann, separately, said it had concerns about the potential of the development to interfere with the existing Dart line, especially during any construction phase, but it had not received any contact from Rails Investment.

In a submission to An Bord Pleanála, Rails Investments said the Dublin City Development Plan gives no indication of the potential locations of underground stations for the Dart underground. Consultants for the company said the building and a metro station could be accommodated on the site.

“It is evident that the proposed development can proceed with the station to follow thereafter. It is not clear from any current strategies, plans or capital programmes when the underground project might commence. It is considered likely that this could be many years into the future,” the consultants said.

They added: “As a result, the reason for the refusal is considered unreasonable and unnecessary.”

An engineering report submitted by Rails Investment said the project could be delivered without unduly compromising the Dart underground station. It claimed any adverse effects from the office block could be mitigated or offset during the development process.

As a high-quality design delivering office accommodation proximate to public transport, the consultants said the building fulfilled several key objectives of the Dublin City Development Plan. The developer had already reduced its height by two storeys to address concerns raised by council planners it would overlook residential properties.

The National Transport Authority is reviewing the Dart underground with a focus on reducing the estimated cost of the project by making some modifications to the plan.

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