Johnny Ronan’s plan to build Dublin’s tallest building turned down

An Bord Pleanála does not agree with senior inspector who called 88m design ‘beautiful’


Developer Johnny Ronan’s plan to erect Dublin’s tallest ever building has been turned down by An Bord Pleanála.

The appeals board has refused planning permission for the 22-storey tower on George’s Quay at Tara Street in spite of its own senior inspector, Gillian Kane, saying the “beautiful” building should be given the go ahead.

The board ruled that the 88m high tower would seriously detract from the setting and character of the Custom House, one of the city’s most important architectural set pieces, and would have a significant and detrimental visual impact on a number of important views and vistas in the city including from College Green and the Trinity College Campus, Henrietta Street, Kildare Street and Harcourt Street.

The board ruled that “the proposed development would, therefore, seriously injure the urban character and visual amenities of the historic city core and would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

Ms Kane, who oversaw a two-day oral hearing on the tower last year, had concluded that the proposed development should proceed.

However, the board stated that it did not agree with Ms Kane’s recommendation and it upheld Dublin City Council’s decision to refuse permission last year.

‘Established character’

In her report, Ms Kane concluded that the tower “would integrate satisfactorily with the surrounding existing development and with the established character of the sensitive historic city centre”.

On the design of the tower, Ms Kane stated that it will “be beautiful”.

“It will however rely on its height to provoke a reaction, rather than a brave new design. The proposed building will not announce Dublin in the same way its international counterparts bring recognition to their cities. It will be a ‘landmark’ in the Collins Dictionary definition of the word in that it will be a building that is easily noticed and one that can be used to judge one’s position.”

On the impact on the skyline, Ms Kane stated that the height of the proposed building is acceptable. She said: “There is a clear policy framework, one which I find reasonable and appropriate – for an 88m building at this location. That there would be an impact on the city skyline therefore, is inevitable.”

On the height of the tower, Ms Kane stated: “The principal of a taller building on the subject site has been robustly assessed and can be solidly defended.”

“The site sits at a strategic location, adjoining a busy public transport node, at a key entrance point to the docklands, at a key visual marker on the River Liffey and directly opposite Liberty Hall,” she said.

The Ronan Group said it was “bewildered” and “disappointed” at the decision, noting Ms Kane’s comments on the project.

A spokesman said Ms Kane had “acknowledged that our scheme as proposed would have been a valuable addition to the architecture of Dublin’s City Centre”.

A spokesman said Ms Kane had “acknowledged that our scheme as proposed would have been a valuable addition to the architecture of Dublin’s City Centre”. He said the group and its advisers would consider the decision carefully “before deciding on its next course of action”.