Councillors reject Séan Dunne plan for AIB site

 

DEVELOPER SEÁN Dunne’s plans for a major new office development at the AIB Bankcentre in Ballsbridge have met with a cross-party rejection from Dublin city councillors.

Councillors have recommended the city planners refuse Mr Dunne’s application to demolish four low-rise late 1970s office blocks at the front of the Bankcentre, opposite the RDS, and replace them with six new buildings ranging in height from seven to nine storeys.

The scheme of five office blocks and one residential building would involve a significant intensification of the current land use, with the floor area increasing from the current 15,700sq m to 52,000sq m.

Local Labour councillor Dermot Lacey said it was unfortunate that councillors yet again were in a position where they had to reject one of Mr Dunne’s developments.

“I have real problems with the application and I’m sorry I do because I don’t think it’s good for the council to always be against a particular developer . . . but I see nothing to merit endorsing this application.”

Mr Lacey said he was particularly concerned that the plans involved building on the green space between the current Bankcentre buildings and the road opposite the RDS.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn said the proposed development was completely inappropriate for the area.

“The name for this type of architecture is architorture.”

Fianna Fáil’s Jim O’Callaghan said the building heights were inappropriate for the area and that developments in excess of six storeys should not be permitted,

Labour’s Oisín Quinn asked if Mr Dunne’s application was being made to bolster the value of other schemes. In recent weeks Mr Dunne lodged a fresh application for the site of the nearby D4 Hotels, formerly Jurys and the Berkeley Court.

“I think there is something afoot here, and it’s not planning . . . I don’t think this can be taken seriously from a planning point of view,” Mr Quinn said.

The councillors’ recommendation for rejection does not automatically mean a development will not be granted planning permission, but their views must be taken into account by the city planners.

The planning department also confirmed yesterday that it would be writing to Mr Dunne in relation to a claim from AIB that the proposed plans breached legal agreements.

AIB sold part of the Bankcentre to Mr Dunne’s Mountbrook Group for €207 million in 2006, but remained as tenants. RPS planning consultants, acting on behalf of AIB, has told the council that the proposed development broke the terms of the sale.

In addition, part of the development involved lands never sold to Mountbrook that remained in the ownership of AIB, it said.

The planning department said it would be seeking further information from the applicant in relation to this, and other issues, including what appeared to be missing buildings in the photomontages submitted to represent the proposed building in situ. Mr Dunne will have six months to respond.