High Court overturns permission for height increase in Johnny Ronan apartments

Dublin City Council opposed increase in two blocks in north Dublin docklands

The High Court has overturned, on consent, An Bord Pleanála's permission to developer Johnny Ronan for increased height of two blocks of apartments in a development of 500 apartments/co-living spaces in the north Dublin docklands.

Dublin City Council had opposed the height increases from seven to 13 storeys in relation to one block and from seven to 11 for the second.

The matter will now go back to the board for reconsideration, Mr Justice Denis McDonald directed on Thursday.

That reconsideration has to be completed within six weeks of the date of perfection of the High Court orders.


Dublin City Council had taken proceedings against An Bord Pleanála over the board's December 2019 decision to permit height increase in the development, being carried out by a company of Mr Ronan.

The case concerned Spencer Place Development Company’s plan for more than 500 apartments/co-living spaces and commercial units in the North Lotts/Grand Canal strategic development zone (SDZ) of the north Dublin docklands.

Last year, the company lost a High Court challenge to the council’s legal interpretation of 2018 “Urban Development and Building Heights” guidelines issued by the Minister for Housing Planning and Local Government.

The company had argued it should be allowed a building height of between seven and 13 storeys in accordance with general building height guidelines.

The council argued the SDZ planning scheme for the lands only permits heights of up to ten storeys.

It was also argued an SDZ can only be amended through a process that includes a fresh round of public consultation.


After the council refused permission, the company appealed to An Bord Pleanála which overruled its own inspector’s recommendation and gave the go ahead to increase one block from seven to 13 storeys and a second block from seven to 11.

The council initiated judicial review proceedings last month challenging the board’s decision.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Denis McDonald was told the parties had agreed orders could be made on consent.

The judge made those orders, including one quashing the board’s December 2019 decision and remitting the matter to the board “to be determined in accordance with law”.

Paul Gallagher SC, for the developer, said the matter is urgent as it related to a construction site and a large number of employees.

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan

Mary Carolan is the Legal Affairs Correspondent of the Irish Times