Dublin City Council brings new challenge to Ronan dockland tower

High Court asked to quash An Bord Pleanála permission for second time in six months

Dublin City Council has taken judicial review proceedings for a second time against An Bord Pleanála's approval of developer Johnny Ronan's plan for a 13-storey apartment block in Dublin's north docklands.

The council’s latest legal challenge comes just two days before the expiry of the eight-week time limit for seeking a judicial review of the board’s approval in April of Ronan Group Real Estate’s plan to to develop 464 build-to-rent apartments and 200 co-living bed spaces across two blocks rising in height to 11 (40.5m) and 13 storeys (47m) respectively.

The proposed Spencer Place development is adjacent to Salesforce's new European headquarter campus, which is under construction.

The Ronan Group submitted its application for the apartments within days of a decision by the High Court last February to quash An Bord Pleanála's approval of an identical scheme. Dublin City Council had initiated judicial review proceedings in January in what was its first legal challenge to a grant of planning permission by the board.


The council’s decision to pursue judicial review proceedings for a second time has, unsurprisingly, met with an angry response from the group.

A spokesman for the developer said: “It is hard to reconcile the urgent need for housing and jobs, in the midst of a period of considerable uncertainty, with the actions of Dublin City Council.”

"This is the second time the council has attempted to overturn the planning permission granted by An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Housing Development regulations on the same site.

“The council is once more prepared to commit scarce resources to delay or block residential development, including 47 much-needed social housing units, and oppose another arm of the State.

“These actions have already resulted in delay, significant additional cost and lost opportunity for the State, given CIÉ’s involvement as a significant shareholder in the project. Unlike the residents and businesses whose interests it is supposed to serve, however, Dublin City Council appears to operate in a consequence-free environment.”


Should the approval given by An Bord Pleanála withstand the council’s latest legal challenge, it would allow the developer to deliver an additional 115 apartments and to replace an aparthotel it had proposed previously with 200 shared bed spaces across a total of 120 bedrooms.

Prior to the current dispute, Ronan’s company had planning permission in place for 349 apartments and a 100-bed aparthotel in two seven-storey blocks on the Spencer Place site.

The apartments have been designed to cater for the upper end of the residential rental market, and will include a hotel-style lobby reception with concierge desk manned on a 24-7 basis, an electric car share club, a rooftop residents’ lounge and garden with fitted barbecue facilities, a penthouse residents’ gym, private dining spaces and a multimedia room.

Upon completion the apartments will account for up to half of the 717,000sq ft (66,599sq m) of space the developer is set to deliver as part of its wider mixed-use scheme at Spencer Place.

The balance of the development will accommodate Salesforce’s new urban campus and a new hotel operated by Dalata, which will be known as the Samuel.

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan is Property Editor of The Irish Times