An Bord Pleanála has given permission for contentious plans for a build-to-rent apartment scheme for Dublin's Heuston South Quarter (HSQ) that includes an 18-storey block.
Last year HPREF HSQ Investments Ltd lodged Strategic Housing Development (SHD) plans for the five-block, 399-unit apartment scheme that sparked opposition from the State's property arm, the Office of Public Works (OPW), the Heritage Council, An Taisce and local residents.
The agencies objected over their concerns about the impact the build-to-rent scheme will have on one of Ireland's most important built heritage sites: Royal Hospital Kilmainham (RHK) and its gardens.
The OPW said the scheme would have “an unacceptable impact” on the RHK.
Now as part of its decision, An Bord Pleanála has ordered that two storeys be removed from two five-storey blocks. The appeals board has also ordered the removal of a large arch between Blocks A and C.
The board said the omissions of the two storeys and the arch are aimed at protecting the architectural heritage of RHK and are made in the interests of the protection of visual and residential amenities.
Both the board inspector in the case, Lorraine Dockery, and Dublin City Council planners recommended that the top five storeys of the 18-storey tower also be omitted.
Ms Dockery said the lack of clarity regarding development on an area to the north of the site “renders the provision of an 18-storey building at this location inappropriate and premature at this time”.
Ms Dockery said that subject to the revisions recommended, once completed and occupied, the overall proposal “will represent a comprehensive transformation of these lands to a high-density, urban development, a continuum to the existing HSQ quarter”.
However, the board’s permission includes the 18-storey, 154-unit apartment block.
The board said it was satisfied that the 18-storey height is “acceptable in terms of design and visual appearance” and did not accept that the lack of clarity over nearby proposals “would constitute an acceptable reason to reduce the height or omit the proposed 18-storey building at this time”.
The board stated that the 18-storey block is located in an area zoned appropriately for the height and density proposed and in compliance with local, regional and national policy.