Bord Pleanála’s U-turn on Dublin skyline


Sir, – An Bord Pleanála’s decision to grant planning permission for the construction of an 88m-high building in the historic heart Dublin could set a precedent to alter a fundamental characteristic of the city: the generally low to medium-rise height of its buildings.

While the introduction of new planning guidelines on building heights clearly has had some influence on the decision, it does not explain how over the course of one year An Bord Pleanála radically changed its views on the impact a high-rise building would have on the city’s architectural heritage. In deciding on a planning application for the site in 2018, it was of the view that such a building would “seriously detract from the setting and character of the Custom House”, would “adversely affect the River Liffey Conservation Area and the O’Connell Street and Environs Architectural Conservation Area”, and have a “significant and detrimental visual impact on views and vistas in the city”.

However, in granting permission for a very similar building in 2019, the board resolved that the structure “would integrate satisfactorily with the surrounding existing development . . . including the Custom House and . . .views and prospects towards the site along the River Liffey Conservation Area” and “would not have a significant and detrimental impact on any important views and vistas within the city”.

This volte face is of immense concern for future decision-making on the shape of Dublin and does not bode well either for its historic urban character nor its position on Unesco’s Tentative List of World Heritage Sites. – Yours, etc,


Executive Director,

Irish Georgian Society,

Dublin 2.