Permission refused for Ronan’s 40-storey docklands tower

Planning board told that scheme represents overdevelopment and is of ‘inadequate design’

An artists impression of Johnny Ronan’s proposed Waterfront scheme as seen from the Liffey’s south quays.

An artists impression of Johnny Ronan’s proposed Waterfront scheme as seen from the Liffey’s south quays.


An Bord Pleanála has refused Johnny Ronan planning permission for his planned 40-plus storey tower scheme for Dublin’s docklands.

The appeals board refused Mr Ronan’s 1,005-unit apartment Waterfront South Central scheme after concluding it was precluded from granting permission after a High Court ruling last November.

The board found that as a result of the November High Court ruling by Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, it does not have jurisdiction to materially contravene the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Planning Scheme under Strategic Housing Development legislative provisions.

Mr Ronan’s project is planned for a site within the North Lotts scheme, which imposes strict height limits. The 44-and 45-storey heights proposed were well in excess of what is allowed in the area.

The High Court decision concerned a case between Dublin City Council and the board, and another Johnny Ronan company, Spencer Place Development Company.

Commenting on the refusal, Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) said that it was “deeply disappointed that [An Bord Pleanála] felt legally obliged to refuse planning permission due to Dublin City Council’s legal action seeking to uphold the Strategic Development Zone at the expense of the Government’s Strategic Housing Development policy.”

Parts of the Dublin Docklands area at North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock have been designated as a Strategic Development Zone for several years.

“Unfortunately Dublin City Council’s continued efforts to frustrate Government policy are impeding much needed development in this area of Dublin,” the Ronan statement said.

Planning consultant, Tom Phillips, who acted as planning consultant on the scheme for RGRE, called on Minister for Housing Darragh O’Brien to revoke the Strategic Development Zone designation for the area to allow the scheme to proceed.

“If an SDZ is an impediment to the delivery of housing during a housing crisis the Minister should revoke the designation,” he said.

The board said it agreed with its senior planning inspector, Rónán O’Connor, stating that an oral hearing was required to address outstanding issues in the Waterfront South Central proposal.

‘Insufficient architectural quality’

In its objection to the plan, council planners told An Bord Pleanála that the tower scheme should be refused on a number of grounds. They said Mr Ronan’s scheme represented overdevelopment and is “an inadequate design response to this sensitive site, would be of insufficient architectural quality, and if permitted would result in a poor placemaking outcome”.

In a statement on Friday, a spokeswoman for the council said it noted the decision of An Bord Pleanála to refuse the application “and will give full consideration to the decision and the implications for its review of height policy in the docklands”.

She added: “However, Dublin City Council remains concerned that it is being presented in the media and general discourse that it is opposed to tall buildings in the docklands. It must be stated categorically that the city council is fully supportive of taller buildings in the right locations in the docklands and elsewhere, which contribute to sustainable development of the city.”

She said the SDZ “provides for taller buildings, a number of which have been built, such as Capital Dock (25 storeys), Bolands Mills (15-16 storeys) and the EXO Building at the Point (17 commercial storeys)”.

The spokeswoman added: “The council is keen to facilitate additional height in the SDZ area in line with the guidelines, but this can only be done by amendment to the SDZ Planning Scheme, a position endorsed by the courts.”