Permission for Dublin’s tallest building refused by city council

City Quay scheme of 24 storeys would ‘seriously detract’ from surrounding area, local authority said

Dublin City Council has refused planning permission for would have been the tallest building in the capital.

The planned 24-storey development at the site of the former City Arts Centre on the south quays would “seriously detract from the setting and character of the Custom House and environs”, the council found.

Ventaway, a company headed by developer David Kennan and Winthrop Engineering founder Barry English, applied to the local authority in August, seeking permission to build the 108m tall, office-led scheme and the demolition of the existing buildings on the site. It has lain dormant for nearly two decades, at City Quay, Dublin 2, across the Liffey from the Custom House.

The 22,587 sq m (243,124 sq ft) development was to include office space over 23 floors with 1,404 sq m (15,113 sq ft) of artist studios/workshops and exhibition space distributed across the front of the building at its lower-ground, ground and first-floor levels and a gym as well as 11 parking spaces and 424 bicycle spaces.


However, in a decision published on Wednesday, Dublin City Council refused permission for the scheme.

Planners found that the development “is likely to have noticeable and detrimental overbearing and overshadowing impacts” on neighbouring properties.

The local authority said that an overshadowing study indicated that the proposed building, which is “of overwhelming scale, mass and height” will “undoubtedly cast a significant shadow and have an overbearing impact on the surrounding environment, including the church and the public space to the front, the nearby school and associated grounds and public space to the front of the adjacent office building”.

It would also “seriously detract from the setting and character of the Custom House and environs,” the council said, as well as having “a significant and detrimental visual impact on the river Liffey Conservation Area and important views and vistas, including those views from the Custom House environs, Amiens Street, Mountjoy Square, Gardiner Street Lower, Trinity College Campus and views westward from the river Liffey.”

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The council said: “The proposal would therefore have a significant and detrimental visual impact on Dublin’s historic skyline, by reason of fragmentation and visual intrusion and would thereby seriously injure the urban character of the city centre skyline, would create a precedent for similar type undesirable development and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

Describing the scale of the scheme as “excessive”, the local authority said “it would stand apart as an overly assertive solo building which would not form part of a coherent cluster” in the context of Marlet Property Group’s Apollo House scheme, currently under development, and Ronan Group Real Estate’s 23-storey hotel (88m) on Tara Street.

Ventaway has four weeks to appeal the decision. Mr English has been approached for comment.

Mr Kennan’s KC Capital group gained control of the site in July 2021, outbidding the likes of Johnny Ronan’s Ronan Real Group, Pat Crean’s Marlet and US real estate giant Hines.

The proposed development faced a number of objections from third parties, including the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, which owns four properties near the site, including the adjacent City Quay National School.

Irish Life Assurance, which owns blocks C and D at a neighbouring development on George’s Quay, also filed an observation, urging the council to “have regard” to potential for loss of light to the west of its property on Moss Street.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times