Tall buildings and Dublin’s future


Sir, – There is no basis whatsoever to the claims made by James Grant (Letters, January 25th) that I “hate” tall buildings in Dublin or that I have put myself forward, still less been appointed, as “the definitive authority on how Dublin should develop”, or that I have become the “Chief Nimby” in the planning process.

Yes, I have opposed random eruptions of super-tall buildings, such as Johnny Ronan’s “Two Fingers” proposal for North Wall Quay, involving towers of 41 and 45 storeys in height, because there was no provision for such a scheme in Dublin City Council’s democratically adopted planning scheme for the docklands area.

I see no problem at all with the zoning of this site under the revised planning scheme for a landmark residential tower of up to 25 storeys in height, matching (and even exceeding) the Capital Dock tower on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay, to form a “Liffey Gateway” to the city. That is a good example of “planning-led development”.

What we’ve seen in Dublin over the past few years, however, is egregious “developer-led planning” – the exact opposite of what should be happening – with the aptly named planning-industrial complex gaming the system, aided by mandatory ministerial planning guidelines introduced at the behest of the property lobby. Building tall blocks of “build-to-rent” apartments, mostly containing single-bedroom units or studios, will not help to solve the housing crisis in the city, which is essentially a crisis of affordability, because this particular development model is based on a high-rent regime that excludes the possibility of home ownership.

I am as much opposed to suburban sprawl as Mr Grant says he is, but I believe that the solution lies in developing affordable housing in apartment blocks of five to seven storeys in height. Not only would this scale be much more economical to build than high-rise towers, but it would also help to retain Dublin’s human scale. – Yours, etc,


Temple Bar,

Dublin 2.