Ronan Group 'bewildered and disappointed' as plan for Dublin's tallest building rejected

Developer Johnny Ronan’s development group has stated that it is ‘bewildered’ and ‘disappointed’ by the Bord Pleanála decision to refuse planning permission for its 22 storey tower at George's Quay in Dublin.

Ronan Group 'bewildered and disappointed' as plan for Dublin's tallest building rejected

By Gordon Deegan

Latest: Developer Johnny Ronan’s development group has stated that it is ‘bewildered’ and ‘disappointed’ by the Bord Pleanála decision to refuse planning permission for its 22 storey tower at George's Quay in Dublin.

The Ronan Group was responding to the decision by the board to refuse planning permission for the tallest building ever proposed for Dublin in spite of its own senior inspector, Gillian Kane recommending that planning permission be granted for what she has described as a "beautiful" building.

An artist's impression of the Tara House development
An artist's impression of the Tara House development

A spokesman for the Ronan Group said that Ms Kane “acknowledged that our scheme as proposed would have been a valuable addition to the architecture of Dublin’s City Centre”.

He said: “Dublin needs beautiful, yet purposeful buildings along good transport links. Being adjacent to both the existing Tara Street Dart Station and the planed Metro station and Dart Interchange there is arguably no site in Dublin better served by transport links.

He said: “Naturally we are disappointed by the An Bord Pleanála decision but we are also bewildered that the board would reject a scheme designed to the very highest international standards, endorsed by its own inspector and is fully compliant in terms of height with the recently-extended George’s Quay Local Area Plan."

The spokesman said that the “Ronan Group and its advisors will consider the An Bord Pleanála decision carefully before deciding on its next course of action.”

The group pointed out that the Government has clearly signalled its intention to bring out new policies to promote more sustainable forms of urban development including greater density and height in city centres and at public transport nodes “and we look forward to reviewing the proposals for the site in the context of this new emerging Government Policy.”

An artist's impression of the porposed Tara House development.
An artist's impression of the porposed Tara House development.

The spokesman pointed out that the proposed 22-story development would have given over 10,000 sq ft of much-needed office space in the heart of Dublin City Centre as well as a new 110-room hotel and a new entrance servicing the existing Tara-Street Dart station.

In its formal order, the board ruled that the 88-metre high tower would seriously detract from the setting and character of the Custom House, one of the city’s most important architectural set pieces, and would also adversely affect the River Liffey Conservation Area and the O’Connell Street and Environs Architectural Conservation Area.

The board went on to state: “Furthermore, the proposal would, by reason of visual intrusion, have a significant and detrimental visual impact on a number of important views and vistas in the city including from College Green and the Trinity College Campus, as well as Lord Edward Street, the Five Lamps, Granby Row, Frederick Street North, Parnell Street North, Henrietta Street, Kildare Street and Harcourt Street.

As a result, the board stated that “the proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the urban character and visual amenities of the historic city core and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

The board has made its ruling in spite of Ms Kane concluding that the proposed development should proceed after giving the development a comprehensive endorsement at the end of an 82-page report.

On the tower’s visual impact, Ms Kane stated that she was satisfied “that the proposed development, with its strong vertical emphasis and architectural treatment, protects the setting and the context of the Custom House”.

On the impact on the skyline, Ms Kane stated that the height of the proposed building is acceptable. She said: “There is a clear policy framework, one which I find reasonable and appropriate – for an 88m building at this location. That there would be an impact on the city skyline therefore, is inevitable.”

On the height of the tower, Ms Kane stated: “The principal of a taller building on the subject site has been robustly assessed and can be solidly defended.”

She said: “The site sits at a strategic location, adjoining a busy public transport node, at a key entrance point to the docklands, at a key visual marker on the River Liffey and directly opposite Liberty Hall.

Ms Kane stated: “The time and place for debating the appropriateness of the site as a suitable site for an 88m building has passed. I am satisfied that the height of the proposed development is not only acceptable but is to be welcomed as a definitive realisation and implementation of a long-held City Council policy.”

Johnny Ronan
Johnny Ronan

ORIGINAL REPORT: An Bord Pleanála rejects Johnny Ronan's plan for Dublin's tallest building

Developer, Johnny Ronan’s plan of building the tallest ever building in Dublin has been turned down by An Bord Pleanála.

The appeals board has refused planning permission for the 22-storey tower on George’s Quay at Tara Street in spite of its own senior inspector, Gillian Kane recommending that planning permission be granted what she has described as a "beautiful" building.

In its formal order, the board ruled that the 88-metre high tower would seriously detract from the setting and character of the Custom House, one of the city’s most important architectural set pieces, and would also adversely affect the River Liffey Conservation Area and the O’Connell Street and Environs Architectural Conservation Area.

The board went on to state: “Furthermore, the proposal would, by reason of visual intrusion, have a significant and detrimental visual impact on a number of important views and vistas in the city including from College Green and the Trinity College Campus, as well as Lord Edward Street, the Five Lamps, Granby Row, Frederick Street North, Parnell Street North, Henrietta Street, Kildare Street and Harcourt Street.

As a result, the board stated that “the proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the urban character and visual amenities of the historic city core and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

The board has made its ruling in spite of Ms Kane concluding that the proposed development should proceed after giving the development a comprehensive endorsement at the end of an 82-page report.

Ms Kane oversaw a two-day oral hearing into the proposal last October.

However, the board stated that it did not agree with Ms Kane’s recommendation and its decision upholds Dublin City Council’s decision to refuse planning permission last year.

In her report, Ms Kane concluded that the tower “would integrate satisfactorily with the surrounding existing development and with the established character of the sensitive historic city centre, including the Custom House and including views and prospects towards the site along the River Liffey Conservation Area, College Green, the grounds of Trinity College and the North Dublin Georgian Quarter”.

On the design of the tower, Ms Kane stated that it will “be beautiful”.

She added: “It will however rely on its height to provoke a reaction, rather than a brave new design. The proposed building will not announce Dublin in the same way its international counterparts bring recognition to their cities. It will be a “landmark” in the Collins Dictionary definition of the word in that it will be a building that is easily noticed and one that can be used to judge one’s position.”

Ms Kane stated that the proposed design “with its attention to detail and the palette of materials chosen are such that the building will be aesthetically very pleasing”.

On the tower’s visual impact, Ms Kane stated that she was satisfied “that the proposed development, with its strong vertical emphasis and architectural treatment, protects the setting and the context of the Custom House”.

On the impact on the skyline, Ms Kane stated that the height of the proposed building is acceptable. She said: “There is a clear policy framework, one which I find reasonable and appropriate – for an 88m building at this location. That there would be an impact on the city skyline therefore, is inevitable.”

On the height of the tower, Ms Kane stated: “The principal of a taller building on the subject site has been robustly assessed and can be solidly defended.”

She said: “The site sits at a strategic location, adjoining a busy public transport node, at a key entrance point to the docklands, at a key visual marker on the River Liffey and directly opposite Liberty Hall.

Ms Kane stated: “The time and place for debating the appropriateness of the site as a suitable site for an 88m building has passed. I am satisfied that the height of the proposed development is not only acceptable but is to be welcomed as a definitive realisation and implementation of a long held City Council policy.”

Mr Ronan has been contacted for comment on the ruling.

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