Tall buildings and Dublin’s future

Sir, – At last, an article advocating high-rise building development in Dublin (Johnny Ronan, "Tall buildings must be part of Dublin's future", Weekend, March 6th.

The fact that the article was penned by a developer does not take away from its essential rightness.

Frank McDonald has been banging his drum for no change in Dublin’s architecture for many years now, being apparently blind to our increasing population needing living space.

There was a time, thank God long past, when a decreasing population meant low rise was acceptable. However, times have changed and needs have changed. Where are all these people going to live? It is not inconceivable that in 50 years the population of the Republic will be six million or seven million. It seems that planners are thinking only of the past and not of the present or future.


On a recent visit to Dublin, I saw a professionally prepared poster calling for a protest against a proposed six-storey apartment block in Crumlin, which already has a five-storey block. It was referred to as “high rise”, believe it or not. – Yours, etc,



Co Galway.

Sir, – This gambit by Johnny Ronan to sell a high-rise to Dublin’s planning authority would recast the identity of the city in his image.

Building density is equally served by three 15-storey buildings as by one high-rise at 45 storeys. A corollary is that the city wouldn’t undergo some very radical and needless facial surgery.

Extremely tall buildings promote individual and corporate identities, not that of the city.

The city doesn’t need a new image; maybe Johnny Ronan does. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 8.

Sir, – There is a fundamental flaw in developer Johnny Ronan’s argument regarding building heights in the Dublin Docklands.

The planning scheme for the Docklands Strategic Development Zone was duly adopted by the members of Dublin City Council and, by extension, the citizens of Dublin, following extensive public consultation, environmental assessments and subsequently approved by An Bord Pleanála in 2014 after a two-week oral hearing. Everyone had an opportunity to have their say.

Mr Ronan may not like the planning scheme, but that’s democracy.

I note that he makes no reference whatsoever to the fact that, following the introduction of new national building height guidelines in 2018, Dublin City Council has proposed to amend the planning scheme to allow for a 25-storey building on this site.

These amendments are currently awaiting approval from An Bord Pleanála.

What is really in play here is the integrity of the Irish planning system. It was for this reason that Dublin City Council was previously compelled to take legal action and, on both occasions, it was fully vindicated.

If planning permission were to be granted for Mr Ronan’s proposed development, it would set a dangerous precedent whereby democratically established planning policy could be set aside at the whim of individual developers, and at that every single citizen should be very concerned. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 1.

Sir, – Following on from Frank McDonald’s excellent article (Opinion, February 27th) and Alan Robinson’s subsequent letter (March 3rd), I suggest that if these buildings are ever erected, it is inevitable that they will become known as the “Two Fingers”. – Yours, etc,



Dublin 24.

Sir, – Alan Robinson, chief executive of the Dublin Docklands Business Forum, states that “Dublin’s growing population needs high-rise for local housing and employment” (Letters, March 3rd).

This takes no account of the fact that during the pandemic, many office workers are successfully working remotely, allowing at least some of them to consider moving out to family-friendly districts with a reduction of commuting time and polluting traffic.

The proposed towers have not been designed for communities. The 101 lower-specification units in the proposal for social housing are insulting to those “essential workers” who could benefit from living in a city-based community.

The proposed towers are for fee-paying visitors to high-rise viewing points and restaurants, to the enhancement of the developer’s reputation, but not to the enhancement of Dublin. Yours, etc,




Sir, – Johnny Ronan’s two glass tower blocks are not going to solve the city’s housing crisis and building them out of eco-cement and draping them in foliage is not going to suddenly catapult Dublin up the league table of the world’s most sustainable cities.

Nevertheless, I find myself agreeing with Mr Ronan that his Waterfront South Central development could, with a bit more design effort, punctuate the banality of Dublin’s Docklands.

Looking at the dull, stumpy “Capital Dock” tower now, where so many landmark schemes had been proposed, the overwhelming sense is of an opportunity lost to a safety-first planning policy.

Would granting permission to Johnny Ronan require the most senior planners in the country to shred their own rule book? It would. Would such a decision create a clamour for similar sky-scraping schemes on multiple, less appropriate, sites elsewhere in the city? It probably would. Does Frank McDonald even possess a “dusty armchair”? Certainly not. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.