Johnny Ronan's €2.5m plans for underground office extension refused by An Bord Pleanála

Johnny Ronan

By Gordon Deegan

Developer Johnny Ronan’s plans to go underground at one of Dublin’s best known Georgian Squares have fallen foul of An Bord Pleanála planners.

This follows An Bord Pleanála refusing planning permission to Mr Ronan’s planned €2.5m office extension beneath his Fitzwilliam Square house that runs the length of the property’s garden and finishes under a mews fronting on to Pembroke Lane.

In its decision, the appeals board stated that the proposed development would seriously injure the integrity of the historic fabric, context and setting of the protected structure and the visual amenities and adversely affect the character of the Architectural Conservation Area.

The planner in the case, Jane Dennehy concluded that planning permission be refused due to the scale and extent of the expansion and interventions involved in the proposed extensions at basement level involving alterations to the garden level.

Ms Dennehy said that the proposed extent of underground excavation within the Architectural Conservation area is in material conflict with the Dublin City Development Plan.

The planning inspector also recommended refusal stating that the proposed development “would set undesirable precedent for further similar development and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

The planning refusal by An Bord Pleanála has come in spite of a warning from property firm Knight Frank that Dublin will not provide enough modern office accommodation over the next three to four years after a record take-up of 3.4 million sq ft in 2017.

Knight Frank made the submission as part of Mr Ronan’s appeal against the City Council decision to refuse planning permission

In its submission, Knight Frank stated that the Ronan plan “will help to provide much-needed accommodation for Dublin”.

Director with Knight Frank, Declan O’Reilly stated that Mr Ronan is proposing to spend €2.5m on the refurbishment of the building “and therefore in order to make this an economically viable project, the design must reflect the demands of the occupiers in the current market”.

Mr O’Reilly stated that “there is very strong precedent for permitted basement development, within commercial buildings in the Georgian area of Dublin”.

In the appeal, planning consultant for Mr Ronan, John Spain & Associates offered to reduce the size of the basement in that it would not extend below the mews building.

However, objector to the plan, Amaska Holdings of 67/68 Fitzwilliam Square also appealed the decision calling on the board to strengthen the grounds of refusal.

Consultants for Amaska Holdings stated that the proposal is a material contravention of the Dublin City Council Development Plan.

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