Council blocks developer’s basement extension plans

Johnny Ronan’s plans to go underground at one of Dublin’s best known Georgian Squares have fallen foul of city council planners.

Dublin City Council has refused planning permission to Mr Ronan’s planned 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.

The council refused planning permission after ruling that the basement extension proposal “would create an undesirable precedent for similar-type development”.

The council stated that its policy is “to discourage any significant underground or basement development or excavations below ground level in conservation areas or properties”.

The council stated that the proposed basement is considered to be a significant contravention of the Dublin City Council Development Plan and represents an overdevelopment of the site.

In its refusal, the council stated that the plan would have an adverse impact on the setting of the protected structure and that the proposal would be seriously injurious to the character and amenities of this sensitive location.

The council refused the plan after council conservation architect Mary McDonald described the protected structure at 65 Fitzwilliam Square as “important” and “significant”, and also recommended refusal.

A spokesman for Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) confirmed that the company will be appealing the city council decision to An Bord Pleanála.

He said: “We were not trying to go further underground with this application but seeking to only extend a basement already there.

“These developments are commonplace in cities such as London and Paris and we have to find a way of making these beautiful old Georgian buildings adaptable for use in the 21st century.”

The plan faced a number of objections, including one from local resident James O’Donnell, who told the city council that he was worried that “my house will be undermined by digging the basement”.

An objection lodged on behalf of Kelley Smith and Aidan Walsh claimed that the proposed development “presents a significant risk to the residential amenity and stability of neighbouring properties”.

In their objection, Frank Callanan and Richard Callanan point to a house in London which began to subside, pulling its neighbours’ houses down with it, after a business high-flier began to excavate his property to make way for a subterranean playroom for his children.

The Callanans stated that the type of work proposed in the Ronan plan “is relatively novel in this city so it beholds us to look to the experience of other cities, in particular London, where they have some experience of this type of development”.

An Taisce supported the residents’ position.

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