A “mini-Manhattan” could be built on Dublin’s South Circular Road, according to local residents, under the new city development plan due to be finalised this week.
Provisions in the plan, which will govern city development for the next five years, would allow 12 buildings up to 15-storeys tall on the Dublin 8 plot which includes the Bailey Gibson and Player Wills sites owned by US developer Hines, and the former St Teresa’s Gardens flat complex.
Under the previous development plan, and a 2017 council masterplan for the adjoining sites, just two 15-storey buildings would have been permitted. The former Bailey Gibson packaging plant and the old Player Wills cigarette factory were at the time under the control of Nama, and were subsequently bought by Hines.
Hines was granted permission in 2020 by An Bórd Pleanála for 416 homes with a 16-storey apartment block on the Bailey Gibson site, despite the conflict with the council’s development plan height rules. Last year the board granted the developer permission for a 19-storey block on the Player Wills lands.
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Local residents have taken judicial review proceedings against both decisions. The Player Wills case is ongoing and the High Court last year referred aspects of the Bailey Gibson case to the European Courts of Justice. Hines earlier this year submitted a backup plan for the Bailey Gibson site, with maximum heights of seven storeys.
Plan for 22-storey block
St Teresa’s Gardens is to be redeveloped by the Land Development Agency. It indicated last year that it would seek to build a 22-storey tower on the site, but following a backlash it scaled heights back to a maximum of 15-storeys, though a planning application has not been submitted.
Dublin 8 residents are urging councillors to block elements of the development plan allowing the 12 blocks of up to 15-storeys.
“A large number of submissions to the draft development plan were made locally, but the plan does not reflect this at all,” said local resident Joe Clarke. “However, it does reflect the mini-Manhattan the developer wants to build.”
The Dublin 8 Residents Association has set up an online petition, which has attracted more than 600 signatures, urging councillors to block the provisions allowing the 12 towers.
“We want to see this site built on, and if the developers had gone ahead under the 2017 plan there would be high-density development on this site by now,” said Mr Clarke. “However, if the council goes through with these amendments to the development plan, we may have to injunct the plan.”
A spokesman for Hines said any amendments it sought to the plan were in the public domain. He said it did not seek height changes during consideration of the draft plan and any claim to the contrary was factually incorrect.
He said Hines was “eager to start development at these key strategic sites as soon as it can” as the delay in “implementing this and other higher volume schemes is having a very serious impact on society, in terms of homelessness and affordability”.
“In the case of Dublin 8, the delivery of permitted homes has so far been delayed by almost two years and final resolution of legal matters could take up to 2024.”