Johnny Ronan’s plan to redevelop AIB Bank Centre is approved

Four 1970s office blocks by Andrew Devane will be demolished in the €350m scheme

Johnny Ronan’s company bought four blocks last year for €67.5 million and said its redevelopment project will be worth about €350 million. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Johnny Ronan’s company bought four blocks last year for €67.5 million and said its redevelopment project will be worth about €350 million. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

Property developer Johnny Ronan has secured planning permission for the demolition and redevelopment of office blocks at the AIB Bank Centre in Ballsbridge.

An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the development, which involves the levelling of four late-1970s office blocks, despite appeals from conservationists for their retention.

The Ronan Group bought four blocks last year for €67.5 million and said its redevelopment project will be worth about €350 million.

The blocks, which face on to Merrion Road opposite the RDS, have been vacant since 2014, but the bank still retains buildings at the back of the site.

The four buildings, which are thee and four storeys tall, will be replaced by two blocks up to five storeys high.

The developer had sought six storeys, but the blocks were reduced by one floor by the planning board.

But, the new development is expected to deliver a three-fold increase on the current office space of more than 9,000sq m.

Modern architecture

The original AIB Bank Centre complex of six low-rise pavilion-style blocks was designed by Andrew Devane in the late-1970s.

DoCoMoMo Ireland, an organisation dedicated to conserving modern architecture, said the Bank Centre represented one of the most significant works of Irish modern architecture by an important architect.

“The buildings are of such significant architectural merit that their destruction would be contrary to best conservation practice.”

The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, part of the Department of Heritage, had undertaken building surveys across the State, apart from the south of Dublin city and the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council area.

The surveys had so far recommended that almost 1,000 extra buildings be added to the Record of Protected Structures, including a large number of 20th-century buildings.

“It is likely that the AIB Bank Centre would be a strong candidate for inclusion,” DoCoMoMo said and added the application should have been referred to the Dublin City Architect for assessment.

The boards inspector said: “Although the AIB Bank Centre complex is architecturally interesting, this on its own could not be used as a reason to refuse permission.”

Developer Seán Dunne had bought the buildings, and two additional blocks, for €200 million in 2006.

An Bord Pleanála refused his nine-storey redevelopment scheme.