Friday 28 October 2016

Desmond hits out at Arts Council plan by Maughan

Published 24/05/2016 | 02:30

Businessman Dermot Desmond
Businessman Dermot Desmond

Millionaire businessman Michael Maughan - the executive chairman of the Gowan Group - is battling Dublin City Council over his plan to demolish a mews building off Merrion Square.

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The development could provide additional space for the Arts Council. Billionaire financier Dermot Desmond has also opposed the plans.

The Arts Council occupies 70 Merrion Square, including its rear mews, which owner Mr Maughan wants to redevelop with exhibition and office space. Mr Desmond owns 71 Merrion Square, which he converted some time ago to residential use.

Dublin City Council has told Mr Maughan, whose Gowan Group is one of the country's biggest motor distributors, that the plans for the mews redevelopment are unacceptable and refused permission. Mr Maughan has now appealed to An Bord Pleanála.

The City Council told Mr Maughan's planners that the proposed development is in a designated conservation area to the rear of a protected structure. The mews extends towards Fitzwilliam Lane.

"The proposed development would result in an intensification of a non-conforming use which would materially contravene the Z1 zoning objective of the site which aims to protect, provide and improve residential amenities," it said. The City Council added that the "scale and character" of the development would negatively impact on adjoining properties. Mr Maughan's planners have rejected the City Council's decision.

"The Arts Council represents an integral part of the cultural landscape of the arts in Ireland and their home in the south Georgian core, which they have occupied from 1959, is considered to be of significant importance to the area, and indeed enhances the image which the organisation endeavours to portray," they argued.

The planners added that the Arts Council is under "significant pressure" to provide additional cultural exhibition and ancillary office space to facilitate future growth.

They said the plan to redevelop the mews represents a consolidation of an existing use, and pointed out that the City Council's own conservation officer was in favour of the plan.

Planners for Mr Desmond claimed the proposed development would injure his privacy and enjoyment of his adjacent property, including his private, landscaped garden.

Mr Maughan and his wife Gemma are long-time supporters of the Arts Council.

The Gowan family's wealth is estimated to be around €100m.

Irish Independent

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