Planners to consider 25-storey apartment tower in north Dublin docklands

New height guidelines could clear way for city’s tallest building to be built near 3Arena

Developer Johnny Ronan has long argued that building upwards is the only way to settle the chronic housing shortage in Dublin. Photograph: Collins

Planners will consider a 25-storey apartment tower in the north Dublin docklands after setting new height guidelines that could clear the way for the city’s tallest building to be built near the former Point Depot.

The move by Dublin City Council, in consultation with An Bord Pleanála, marks something of a breakthrough for Ronan Group Real Estate, the business controlled by developer Johnny Ronan which proposed a 45-floor skyscraper on the property two years ago.

Mr Ronan has long argued that building upwards is the only way to settle the chronic housing shortage in Dublin. He applied in 2021 to An Bord Pleanála to build a 45-storey apartment block on the Waterfront South Central site at North Wall Quay but was refused permission.

The site is to the west of the 3Arena concert venue in the Point complex, next door to a new office the group is building for the Dublin headquarters of Citibank.

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Although the new height restrictions are still well below Mr Ronan’s original plan, they will more than double the number of floors allowed in an area that previously faced a 10-floor cap.

According to Ronan Group, the height review allows planners to consider “a 22 to 25-storey Liffey gateway residential tower at the southeastern corner of block nine D not exceeding 25 meters by 30 meters per floor”.

That is a reference to the landmark building that the group wants to build where the site fronts on to North Wall Quay at its junction with North Wall Avenue.

The group plans a second residential tower to the rear of that block comprising 12 floors – up from a previous cap of seven floors – on the northeastern corner of the site.

“RGRE welcomes this Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanála decision to help the group deliver further much-needed residential development for Dublin city and for the docklands area in particular,” said Rory Williams, chief executive of the Ronan Group.

Company data suggests the height restriction change could increase the number of potential housing units on the site from about 400 to some 600.

But the development of a 25-floor building is still some time off because the height guidelines simply set parameters for a fresh planning application to the city council.

The group will now have to go back to its architectural and design team to recast or redesign its plans for the site in line with the new height guidelines.

Mr Ronan was behind the separate Spencer Place development nearby, a plan that originally included a 13-storey tower. Although permission was granted by An Bord Pleanála in 2020, the High Court overturned it after an appeal by the city council.

Ronan group finished Spencer Place up to six storeys but the Court of Appeal later upheld an appeal by one of its companies against the High Court ruling. The group had built to eight storeys on that site when the High Court ruling imposed the six-storey cap, so it had to take two storeys off.

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley

Arthur Beesley is Current Affairs Editor of The Irish Times