Refuse Johnny Ronan docklands scheme, council planners say

Impact on sunlight/daylight for residents and road network among reasons listed by DCC

Dublin City Council planners  say Johnny Ronan’s Waterfront South Central scheme represents overdevelopment. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

Dublin City Council planners say Johnny Ronan’s Waterfront South Central scheme represents overdevelopment. Photograph: Naoise Culhane

 

Dublin City Council planners have told An Bord Pleanála that Johnny Ronan’s 40-plus storey tower scheme for Dublin’s docklands should be refused on a number of grounds.

As part of a 63-page planning report lodged with An Bord Pleanála, the planners say Mr Ronan’s Waterfront South Central scheme represents 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”.

The proposed Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) scheme includes two 45- and 44-storey towers comprising 1,005 apartments, with RGRE planning to sell 101 apartments at an estimated cost of €66.69 million to the council for social housing.

A decision is due on the scheme later this month. Council planners have told the board that the scheme, if permitted, “would negatively impact the receiving environment, in terms of daylight, sunlight and wind, and resulting in a poor standard of residential amenity for future residents”.

On the basis of the sunlight/daylight and overshadowing analysis submitted, the council maintained serious concerns in respect of potential detrimental impact on the amenities of the surrounding residential developments and public realm. 

The council also recommended refusal as the proposed development would not be consistent with the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock Special Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme, which sets out specific height limits for the application site. 

Endanger public safety

On the impact of the local road network, the council said the plan would be: injurious to the safe and convenient movement of people, would result in potential vehicular and pedestrian conflict along the road and would, therefore, endanger public safety by reason of a traffic hazard and obstruction of road users. 

Members of the council viewed a presentation made by DCC executive planner Colm Harte of the scheme.

A council report on the proceedings states “members strongly objected to the height of proposed development” and “serious concern was expressed about the impact of overshadowing and overlooking of adjoining properties in Mayor Street and surrounding areas”. 

One councillor expressed concern the scheme was mostly one and two-bed units and that developers need to understand that families also need a place in the inner city.

RGRE response

Responding to the contents of the report and the council members’ concerns, a spokeswoman for RGRE on Tuesday said their ambition is “to create a landmark new development for Dublin that sets the standard for responsible and integrated development as the greenest city quarter in Ireland” at a time of “much-needed housing”.  

“Residents, the local community and the public at large, will have access to more than 6,000 sq m of community and public spaces throughout the scheme, including Ireland’s highest public viewing deck and restaurant; a visitor experience; cafes; crèche facilities; a farmers’ market; a bakery; and a waterfront townhall space that will be made freely available to the local community”.

RGRE will be pinning its hopes on An Bord Pleanála’s frequent practice of dismissing Dublin local authorities’ recommendation to refuse planning to fast track apartment schemes and giving those projects the green light.

The developer’s hopes were boosted in March when An Bord Pleanála threw out the city council’s proposals to permit only modest height increases in tower blocks for the site where Mr Ronan is planning to build.

In rejecting the council’s proposed amendments to the local SDZ planning scheme, board member Paul Hyde said the board considered the council’s proposed amendments “to be a missed opportunity to accommodate much needed residential homes and commercial floor space for a growing and changing population, demographics and employment sector within the city centre on a strategic and well serviced land bank”.