OPW warns of plan’s ‘unacceptable impact’ on Royal Hospital

Developer envisages 18-storey apartment scheme of 399 units in Kilmainham

A 399-unit build-to-rent apartment scheme up to 18 storeys in height would have “an unacceptable impact” on the Royal Hospital Kilmainham and its gardens, according to the Office of Public Works (OPW).

The State’s property arm has told An Bord Pleanála that the next phase of the Heuston South Quarter scheme “would have a significant detrimental impact on the architectural and historical setting of the Royal Hospital building”.

In a hard-hitting objection against the fast-track Heuston South Quarter scheme, the OPW said some 400,000 visitors enjoy the landscaped grounds of the Royal Hospital every year.

It is Dublin’s earliest large-scale classical building, dating from the 17th century. The OPW said the build-to-rent proposal, due to its sheer mass and height, “will significantly intrude on the visitor experience at this important destination, which is frequented by both international and domestic visitors”.


In a joint submission on behalf of the OPW, state architect Ciarán O’Connor and the agency’s head of planning and estate management, Martin Bourke, state the Royal Hospital’s formal gardens were an important location for health and wellbeing but being overlooked by the scheme “has the potential to alter the public’s enjoyment of this culturally significant landscape”.

The OPW objection states that the two blocks nearest to the Royal Hospital “will have an intrusive and unacceptable impact on the architectural character, visitor experience and historic setting of the RHK”.


Heritage watchdogs, including the Heritage Council and An Taisce, have also objected to the scheme lodged by HPREF HSQ Investments Ltd. It comprises 250 one-bedroom units, 46 studios, 90 two-bedroomed, four-person units and 13 two-bedroomed, three-person units.

Planning documents lodged with the scheme state that the height, massing and scale “have afforded due regard to the existing development forming part of the wider HSQ [Heuston South Quarter] precinct and the need to protect the setting and context of the adjoining Royal Hospital Kilmainham”.

On the impact on the Royal Hospital, consultants Declan Brassil + Company, for the developers, state that “the design approach has sought to establish a materiality, rhythm and articulation of the massing that responds positively and respectfully to the RHK and its gardens, and enhances views and visual links from the gardens, re-establishing historic links and respecting the significance of the place”.

The consultants state that previously permitted development at Heuston South Quarter provided for buildings up to 14 storeys, clearly establishing the potential and ability of the site to accommodate taller buildings and higher-intensity development.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times