Landmark Ballsbridge church for €3.75m

St Mary’s on Anglesea Road offers scope for delivery of homes, offices or cultural space

The former St Mary’s Church in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

The former St Mary’s Church in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4.

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A landmark former church in Ballsbridge, Dublin 4, is expected to attract strong interest when it goes to tender on February 23rd next. The listed property has potential for redevelopment as residential, commercial, or cultural space.

The former St Mary’s Church, at the corner of Anglesea Road and Simmonscourt Road, will be well known to attendees of the adjoining RDS or Aviva stadium, as it is in use as a car park.

The freehold property, on a site of 0.4 hectare (one acre), is guiding at a price of €3.75 million, and is being brought to the market by Lisney. It is being sold by the Representative Church Body, the property arm of the Church of Ireland.

As a listed property, planning permission is unlikely to be obtained for demolition of the church, and any potential development must have regard for the protection and conservation of the church structure and its historical features.

Located close to Ailesbury Road and Shrewsbury Road, the church is in a desirable location in both residential and business terms, close to the RDS Showgrounds and Arena, with a high concentration of embassy offices, residences, and sports facilities in the area.

Potential uses

The trend of declining numbers attending religious ceremonies means that the sale of church buildings is likely to continue. Redevelopments of such properties in recent years have included the former St Mary’s Church, on the junction of Mary Street and Henry Street in Dublin’s city centre, into a bar and restaurant, and a 17th century Huguenot Church, St Luke’s, on Newmarket Square, Dublin 8, into a three-storey modern office. In New York, a former Episcopal church was famously used as a nightclub, Limelight.

The Ballsbridge church, which is listed on the Record of Protected Structures, extends to about 484sq m (5,200sq ft) of gross internal area. It is zoned Objective Z8 “Georgian Conservation Area” under the Draft Dublin City Development Plan 2022-2028.

A detailed planning feasibility report from KPMG Future Analytics suggests that the property has notable potential for redevelopment for a range of new uses, including, but not limited to, infill residential development, office development and cultural/recreational development.

The heritage status of the property, and its special position as a former church, may present an opportunity to create a unique development that respects its historic setting.

Certain items present in the church and grounds are included in the sale, including the pulpit, a number of pews, stained­glass windows, church bell, organ and the war memorial in the grounds.

History

The church was deconsecrated in July 2020, due to the structural instability of the building and decline in size of the congregation.

It was designed by John Semple and completed in 1830. It took its name from the demolished St Mary’s Church which was previously situated in Donnybrook village, where the graveyard remains.

The interior of the church has high vaulted ceilings, with timber buttressing and several notable historic features, including large stained-glass windows, an organ, marble altar reredos and marble pulpit.

While both the interior and exterior of the church have been well maintained, the property has suffered from subsidence in the past and interested parties should request a structural report before proceeding.

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