Cairn Homes cleared to lodge 690-unit planning application for RTÉ site

House builder also plans a hotel within Donnybrook project

Dublin City Council has cleared the way for Cairn Homes to lodge a planning application for 690 apartments and a hotel on a site it purchased from RTÉ in Donnybrook, Dublin 4.

The council told Cairn Homes in an “opinion” that its mixed-use plan constituted a reasonable basis for a “Large Residential Development” application under new planning rules for large-scale housing developments.

Cairn Homes now has six months to lodge a formal planning application for the scheme with the council. The development envisaged would include 274 build-to-sell apartments and 416 build-to-rent apartments.

It would also include a hotel, 17 “age-friendly living” units, a creche facility, restaurant and cafe, artisan food shop, residential amenities and associated site works.

In a notice published on Thursday concerning the proposed scheme, the council said that “following consideration of the issues raised during the Large Residential Development (LRD) meeting, the planning authority is of the opinion that the documentation submitted would constitute a reasonable basis for an application for permission for the proposed LRD”.

The scheme is considerably larger in scale than the €338 million, 614-unit scheme in nine apartment blocks ranging from four to 10 storeys in height for which Cairn secured planning permission from An Bord Pleanála in September 2020.

‘Ballymun South’

Billionaire Dermot Desmond was a vocal opponent of the initial Cairn scheme, describing the proposal as "Ballymun Towers South Dublin" in a letter to Dublin city councillors.

However, in March 2021, An Bord Pleanála consented to a High Court order quashing its permission for the Cairn 614 unit scheme. This followed a High Court challenge by three local residents – Chris Comerford, John Gleeson and Pat Desmond, wife of Dermot Desmond – to the board's decision to deal with the permission application by Cairn Homes.

The new plan by Cairn comes five years after it paid RTÉ €107.5 million for the 8.64-acre site. The developer commenced its bid to build on the site in December 2018 when it put preliminary plans before An Bord Pleanála.

A spokeswoman for Cairn Homes said on Thursday: “Cairn has received a detailed formal opinion from Dublin City Council following statutory pre-application discussions on our proposed mixed-use development at Montrose, Donnybrook. Cairn intends to address all items of the opinion and lodge a Large-scale Residential Development (LRD) planning application to Dublin City Council in due course.”

The new LRD system replaces the fast-track Strategic Housing Development (SHD) system, which allowed developers to bypass councils and lodge their plans directly with An Bord Pleanála.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times