Johnny Ronan refused permission for 40-storey Dublin Docklands tower

High Court ruling precludes planning board from granting permission
Johnny Ronan refused permission for 40-storey Dublin Docklands tower

Waterfront South Central by the Ronan Group would be Dublin's tallest tower.

An Bord Pleanála has refused developer Johnny Ronan planning permission for his planned 40-plus storey tower scheme for Dublin's docklands.

The appeals board rejected the plans for the 1,005-unit apartment development, called Waterfront South Central, after concluding that it is precluded from granting permission after a High Court ruling last November.

The appeals board found that as a result of the ruling by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, the board does not have jurisdiction to materially contravene the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Planning Scheme under Strategic Housing Development legislative provisions.

Mr Ronan's development is planned for a site within the North Lotts scheme. The scheme imposes strict height limits and the proposed 44 and 45 storey heights were well in excess of what is allowed in the area.

The High Court decision concerned a case between Dublin City Council and the appeals board and another Johnny Ronan company, Spencer Place Development Company.

The appeals board stated that it agreed with its senior planning inspector, Rónán O’Connor stating that an oral hearing was required to address outstanding issues in the Johnny Ronan Waterfront South Central proposal.

In its objection, Dublin City Council planners told An Bord Pleanála that the tower scheme should be refused on a number of grounds.

Developer Johnny Ronan: 'Our ambition is to create a landmark new development for Dublin'. File Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins
Developer Johnny Ronan: 'Our ambition is to create a landmark new development for Dublin'. File Picture: Gareth Chaney Collins

As part of a 63-page planning report, the planners stated Mr Ronan’s scheme represents overdevelopment and is "an inadequate design response to this sensitive site, would be of insufficient architectural quality, and if permitted would result in a poor placemaking outcome”.

The Council planners told An Bord Pleanala that the scheme if permitted “would negatively impact the receiving environment, in terms of daylight, sunlight and wind, and resulting in a poor standard of residential amenity for future residents”.

The Council has also recommended refusal as the proposed development would not be consistent with the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock SDZ Planning Scheme, which sets out specific height limits for the application site.

In its objection against the scheme, An Taisce's Kevin Duff told the appeals board that the impulse to construct two 40-plus storey towers “simply because Dublin does not have such buildings or because it does not look ‘international’ without them is ludicrous and is unsupportable environmentally".

Mr Duff stated that the type of housing proposed in the scheme “is rarely affordable and most likely to end up as corporate letting with little or no contribution to the housing supply or the housing crisis”.

However, the Docklands Business Forum stated that labelling Mr Ronan as a ‘Manhattan-style project’ is extraordinarily ill-informed.

In the forum's submission, CEO, Alan Robinson stated that the scheme would be only half the height of the 'Shard', London’s tallest building and would not even make the list for London's top ten structures.

Mr Robinson told the appeals board that Mr Ronan’s planned 45 and 44 storey tower scheme “is modest in height” and should be given the green light.

Last month a spokeswoman for Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) said: “Our ambition for Waterfront South Central is to create a landmark new development for Dublin that sets the standard for responsible and integrated development as the greenest city quarter in Ireland."

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