Redevelopment of former INBS building will not prejudice metro, hearing told

An Bord Pleanála considers redevelopment of Dublin site for offices and restaurant

Elaine Edwards

The National Transport Authority (NTA) has rejected a suggestion, by residents of a heritage area in south Dublin, that a proposed redevelopment of the former Carroll's building, supported by the authority, may prejudice the MetroLink route.

An Bord Pleanála was hearing an appeal by a number of third parties against the proposal by Grand Parade Property Trading Company to extensively redevelop the building, which is also the former headquarters of Irish Nationwide Building Society, for office use with a restaurant at ground level.

A number of options for a link between the nearby Luas station at Charlemont and the planned MetroLink project are being considered.

The building on Grand Parade near the canal is on Dublin City Council’s list of protected structures. It was built to house PJ Carroll cigarette company headquarters and packaging facility and was opened by Seán Lemass in July 1964.

Submissions were made on Thursday and Friday on behalf of a number of residents of nearby Dartmouth Square, an architectural conservation area, who are opposed to the development.

‘Substantial impact’

They claim the redevelopment will substantially impact on their homes due to overlooking and they also have concerns about drainage and traffic issues.

Town planner and chartered surveyor Jerry Barnes, for the owners of numbers 1 to 17 Dartmouth Square West, told the hearing on Friday it was "quite evident" from a review of the original planning application to the council that the proposal was "wholly incompatible" with the emerging MetroLink proposal being developed.

“On the basis of the original planning application, the proposal should have been refused outright on prematurity and policy grounds. Instead of this evident decision, the NTA/Transport Infrastructure Ireland engaged in an elaborate series of non-transparent meetings with the developer to allow the applicant to design by sleight of hand and through smoke and mirrors a major above and below-surface train station, tunnel portal and incline to tie in with the MetroLink project,” he said.

He claimed the NTA and TII did not engage with any of the residents on Dartmouth Square West. The first any of them were aware of what was being proposed in relation to the MetroLink was on March 21st last, when three property owners were notified by letter that there were specific plans affecting their properties.

Consulting engineer Jim Lawler of DBFLConsulting Engineers, for the applicants, told the hearing on Thursday that when the planning application was lodged with the council on March 2nd 2017, the design team and applicant were unaware of the proposal to locate a possible Metro/Luas interchange nearby.

The plans were ultimately revised in order to facilitate the possible future construction of an underground metro line and station beneath the Carroll’s building. Mr Lawler said the modifications had been determined through “extensive consultations” with both transport authorities and were acceptable to them.

Mr Barnes said on Friday the development was “quite evidently premature” pending the determination of the alignment of the Metrolink. It would therefore be contrary to the Dublin city development plan.

If the board were to grant permission for the development without confirming “in an unambiguous manner” whether that option for the train station could be delivered, it would “in fact prejudice the entire MetroLink project”, he claimed.

Hugh Cregan, deputy chief executive of the NTA, told the hearing that the options for the connection at Charlemont were "only at the concept stage".

He said that no matter which option was chosen, he would expect to see it further developed and refined.

Mr Cregan said it was the view of the NTA that the MetroLink connection could be delivered subsequent to the redevelopment of the Carroll’s building, subject to a separate, statutory railway order.

“This is a big project for Dublin and we are not going to do anything to compromise it,” he said.