A fast-track planning scheme which would allow buildings up to 22 storeys high in Dublin's docklands has been approved by Dublin City Council.
The docklands strategic development zone (SDZ) will give council planners the power to make decisions that could not be appealed to An Bord Pleanála, including the power to grant permission for structures 50 per cent higher than Dublin's current tallest building.
The scheme is the first major planning initiative for the area since the Government decision last year to wind up the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) and transfer its powers to the council. The Government has sanctioned the designation of 66 hectares of riverside lands, previously under the control of the authority, for the new planning zone.
The public has four weeks to lodge an appeal against the scheme with An Bord Pleanála, but, if approved by the board, all future applications made for this part of the docklands must be granted permission if they are consistent with the scheme and cannot be appealed to the planning board.
The development zone covers the Grand Canal Dock area on the south side of the river and North Lotts area on the north side, the parts of the docklands closest to the city centre and the areas seen as the most viable in terms of economic development and the provision of housing. Within the 66 hectares, about 22 hectares are vacant or otherwise available for development. Under the plan about 2,600 new homes and 300-350sq m of commercial space could be built, providing a potential 20,000-23,000 jobs, the council said.
The area has been divided into five development “hubs” around Spencer Dock, Point Village, Grand Canal Dock, Britain Quay and Boland’s Mills. These have been further subdivided into 22 city blocks which would have their own particular planning parameters.
Two areas have been identified as suitable for a 22-storey commercial building; the Point Square on the north side and Britain Quay on the south side. If built, these skyscrapers would be almost half as high again as Dublin's tallest commercial building, the Google-owned Montevetro building on nearby Barrow Street, which is 15-storeys tall. However, these new buildings would be considerably smaller than the 30-storey U2 tower planned under the DDDA for Britain Quay, but never built.
At Boland's Mills a 15-storey building would be permitted and at Spencer Dock the maximum would be 14 storeys.
Throughout the rest of the area, three height bands have been set down – along the quays, up to eight storeys of commercial or 10 storeys of residential will be allowed; at the edge of the city, blocks of up to six storeys (commercial) and seven storeys (residential); and within the city, blocks of five storeys (commercial) or six storeys (residential) will be the maximum. However, if a convincing case can be made by developers, there would be provision for an additional floor.