Permission granted for 611 apartments at former RTÉ Montrose lands

Cairn Homes to spend €338m on nine-block complex in Dublin 4

An Bord Pleanála has given the green light to Cairn Homes for its contentious €338 million apartment complex plan for former RTÉ lands at Montrose in Dublin 4.

The house builder has secured planning permission for 611 apartments in nine blocks ranging from four to 10 storeys in height, along with three townhouses. The project has attracted strenuous local opposition.

In total, 19 objections were lodged, including from the Ailesbury Road Residents Association, the Austrian Embassy and Ailesbury Road resident Pat Desmond, wife of billionaire Dermot Desmond.

Ms Desmond, along with two other Ailesbury Road residents, also brought an unsuccessful High Court action concerning the appeal board's handling of the fast track Strategic Housing Development (SHD) application.


Mr Desmond has also been a vocal opponent of the plan, describing the scheme as “Ballymun Towers South Dublin” in a letter to Dublin city councillors.

The appeals board has ruled that the proposal would constitute an acceptable quantum and density of development in this accessible urban location; would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area; and would be acceptable in terms of urban design, height and quantum of development.

The appeals board has attached 29 conditions to the decision.

Senior planning inspector with the appeals board Sarah Moran recommended that planning permission be granted.

In her 162-page report, Ms Moran stated: “While the increased height contrasts with the surrounding residential and institutional developments, it represents a reasonable response to its context and is stepped down at site boundaries to reduce impacts on adjacent properties and protected structures.”

Ms Moran said the overall layout includes good quality public amenity space.

“I am satisfied that the development will not result in significant adverse impacts on residential amenities such as would warrant a refusal of permission.”

The decision comes more than three years after Cairn Homes paid RTÉ €107.5 million for the 8.64 acre site.

Social housing

The planning permission now paves the way for Cairn Homes to enter talks with Dublin City Council over its proposal to sell 61 of the apartments in the plan to the council for €30.17 million to comply with Part V social housing obligations.

The documentation lodged with the application puts a value of €521,377 on the two-bed apartments, and €472,797 on the one bed apartments.

Cairn has put forward 37 one-bedroom apartments and and 24 two-bed apartments for Part V, to be located in one eight-storey block.

The appeals board gave the plan the go ahead after a 67-page planner’s report from Dublin City Council recommended planning permission be granted for “Project Montrose”, in spite of a number of members of Dublin City Council expressing “serious reservations”.

The city council planners said they agree with the developers that the location allows for additional building height along the Stillorgan Road, given the precedent for taller buildings along the road.

Planning documentation lodged by Cairn Homes said Project Montrose represents “a once in a lifetime opportunity for a landmark development in one of Dublin’s most desirable neighbourhoods”.

The scheme “offers a unique vision for sustainable development in a parkland setting” and will provide for a series of taller “villa”style buildings fronting the Stillorgan Road with a perimeter of lower “pavillon” buildings along the rear boundary.

Planning consultants Avison Young said the design rationale for the proposal “is to provide a landmark residential development delivering a new urban neighbourhood with increased height and density and high quality urban frontage on a gateway to Dublin city”.

In their objection, Ms Desmond along with former Irish Sugar managing director Chris Comerford and businessman John Gleeson said the scheme for the site at RTÉ 's campus was "seriously flawed" and must be rejected.

The three residents initiated a separate High Court challenge in March against the legality of the legislation underpinning the Government fast track SHD system.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times