Monday 5 December 2016

Planners nix Arts Council mews bid

Published 24/09/2016 | 02:30

Dermot Desmond
Dermot Desmond

Millionaire businessman Michael Maughan - the executive chairman of the Gowan Group - has lost his battle to demolish a mews building off Dublin's Merrion Square with the intention of creating more space for the Arts Council.

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Billionaire financier Dermot Desmond - who owns an adjacent property - had opposed the plans.

The council had refused Mr Maughan's application to demolish the existing mews and build a replacement. An Bord Pleanála has now upheld that decision.

The Arts Council occupies 70 Merrion Square, including its rear mews, which owner Mr Maughan wanted to redevelop with exhibition and office space.

Mr Desmond owns 71 Merrion Square, which he converted some time ago to residential use.

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

They also claimed that the entire existing mews building to the rear to the rear of Merrion Square has been used as offices since 1999 without planning permission.

The Arts Council has occupied the mews since 2009.

Dublin City Council agreed that changes made in previous years to the existing mews to the rear of 70 Merrion Square are "unauthorised and the offices constitute a non-conforming use".

But planners for Mr Maughan insisted that the redevelopment should be permitted given the importance of the Arts Council.

They stated that the Arts Council, which has been present in the south Georgian core since 1959, is an "integral part of the cultural landscape of the arts in Ireland".

They warned that a failure to secure the expanded space at the location on Merrion Square could force the council to seek alternative accommodation for its base.

A location outside the south Georgian core would be a most likely option, they added.

But An Bord Pleanála has refused to reverse the council's decision on the plans.

"It is considered that the proposed development would have a serious and detrimental impact on the character and setting of the original mews building and on the protected structures and would seriously injure the visual amenities of the area and of property in the vicinity," it said in a ruling.

It added: "The proposed development would result in the intensification of a non-conforming office use, for which no record of permission exists."

Irish Independent

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