Dublin City Council has advised An Bord Pleanála to grant permission for the demolition of "The O'Rahilly" house in Ballsbridge and its replacement with a 12-storey apartment and aparthotel complex.
The recommendation of the council’s planning department comes despite opposition from several residents’ associations and heritage organisations, city councillors and the Department of Culture and Heritage.
Derryroe Ltd, a development company owned by the McSharry and Kennedy families, who also own the Herbert Park Hotel, has applied to An Bord Pleanála for an aparthotel extension and 105 apartments fronting on to Herbert Park on the site of three detached Edwardian houses.
Two of the houses have already been demolished but the third, 40 Herbert Park, remains. It was the home of Michael Joseph O’Rahilly, known as The O’Rahilly, the only leader of the 1916 Rising to die in battle.
While the decision on the application is a matter for the planning board, under the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) fast track process, the council is required to submit its views to the board.
It has recommended that permission be granted and said “additional housing units within the context of a housing crisis is welcomed”.
However, significant numbers of objections have been submitted to the board in relation to the demolition of number 40 and the proposed height of the new development.
The Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht said it did not support the removal of the Edwardian houses on the site “as it removes 20th century typologies that are fully viable and their loss may be regarded as undermining local character and identity of the historic village of Ballsbridge”. The reuse of “existing assets and their craftsmanship”, was a central Government policy “to combat climate change and loss of cultural significance/sense of place” it said.
In relation to the proposed new scheme the department said its scale “greatly exceeds that approved by Dublin City Council” and it was not in keeping with the overall pattern of development or character of the area. “The residential block is visually jarring in its juxtaposition within this historic context,” it said.
Councillors of all parties objected to the development, both in relation to its height and the demolition of number 40, which the council’s conservation section is currently assessing for listing on the Record of Protected Structures (RPS).
Objections have also been made by local residents and residents’ groups including Pembroke Place Residents’ Association, South Georgian Residents’ Association, Pembroke Road Residents’ Association, and Upper Leeson Street Residents’ Association.
Submissions opposing the demolition of number 40 were also made by the 1916 Relatives Alliance and Relatives of the Signatories of the 1916 Proclamation. The O’Rahilly’s grandson, Proinsias Ó Rathaille, also lodged an objection with the board, and in recent days has raised concerns about the deterioration of the house, which has had its windows smashed.
The board is expected to deliver its decision next month.