Cairn Homes plan for former RTÉ site draws 19 objections

Project Montrose plan includes 611 apartments in blocks of four to 10 storeys high

Some 19 objections have been lodged to Cairn Homes' plan for 614 residential units on almost nine acres of land that it acquired in Donnybrook from RTÉ three years ago.

According to an objection lodged on behalf of Pat Desmond, the wife of billionaire Dermot Desmond, and two other Ailesbury Road residents, the proposed €338 million apartment plan would have "an unacceptable impact" on the amenities of the area.

The objection, drawn up by planning consultant Simon Clear, states that the proposal is unsatisfactory and seriously injurious to the amenities of adjoining properties – particularly the Desmond property – for numerous reasons.

Mr Clear claims the proposed “fast-track” Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme for the site beside RTÉ’s campus is “seriously flawed” and must be rejected.


The Project Montrose proposal for the site – purchased by Cairn from RTÉ for €107.5 million – includes 611 apartments across nine buildings ranging from four to 10 storeys in height.

Mr Clear made the submission on behalf of Ms Desmond, former Irish Sugar managing director Chris Comerford, and businessman John Gleeson.

They are seeking for An Bord Pleanála to host an oral hearing on the project "in light of the complex and difficult issues that arise in respect of the proposed development".

In March, the three residents launched a High Court challenge against the legality of the legislation underpinning the Government fast-track SHD system.

Mr Desmond has also been outspoken against the development telling local politicians in a letter that the height of the development was “totally unsuitable to the area”.

Others to object include the Republic of Austria, which has its embassy and ambassador's residence on Ailesbury Road, and the Ailesbury Road Residents' Association.

Permitted height

A consultant for the Republic of Austria, Tony Manahan of Manahan Planners, has told the appeals board that the proposed height of the Cairn scheme at 34.5 metres is more than twice the permitted height for buildings of 16 metres for the area, according to the City Development Plan.

Mr Manahan argues that “due to the height, visual impact, traffic impact on Ailesbury Close…as well as the sensitive nature of business and security of the Austrian ambassador’s residence, it is likely that the impact of the proposed SHD are so great that An Bord Pleanála should refuse planning permission and the applicants should be made to reapply for a more acceptable application”.

The Ailesbury Road Residents’ Association has claimed that, if permitted, the proposal would seriously harm the visual amenities of the neighbouring conservation area.

The association is concerned that approval for the plan – the first in a Residential Conservation Area – would represent a landmark decision “as it will undoubtedly act as a worrying precedent for the wider area”.

The chairman of the association is Dr Patrick Gavin and committee members include Kathy Smurfit, Tara Fay and Emer Gunne.

However, planning documentation with the Cairn Homes application states that Project Montrose represents “a once in a lifetime opportunity for a landmark development in one of Dublin’s most desirable neighbourhoods”.

Submissions (but not objections) were also made to An Bord Pleanála by State agencies, the National Transport Authority and Transport Infrastructure Ireland, and by RTÉ.

A decision is due on the planning application in September.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times