Sunday 21 December 2014

D4 residents bid to block embassy plan for expansion

Gordon Deegan

Published 23/06/2014 | 02:30

Merrion Road, Dublin
Merrion Road, Dublin

RESIDENTS from the well-heeled Merrion Road in Dublin 4 have put the block on the world's biggest democracy establishing a new embassy on the road.

This follows the Merrion Road Residents' Association appealing a decision by Dublin City Council to grant planning permission to the Office of the Ambassador of India to change the use of 69 Merrion Rd and extend the property to establish an embassy there.

The current Indian embassy is located at Leeson Park in Dublin 4 and planning consultants acting on behalf of the ambassador have told the city council that it will take 15 to 18 months to extend and alter the existing Edwardian redbrick property, built around 1903.

The ambassador, HE Smt. Radhika Lol Lokesh, lodged her plans last September with architect for the scheme, Brian Brennan, stating that "embassy use at No 69 Merrion Rd represents a prestige cultural use for the residential conservation area and improves and protects its living dynamic street character". Her excellency, Smt. Radhika Lol Lokesh is to remain at the Indian ambassador's residence in Foxrock.

However, the application for the new embassy provoked a wave of opposition from residents' associations.

Opposing the plan along with the Merrion Road Residents' Association, residents' groups representing Ailesbury Road, Shrewsbury Road and the Upper Leeson St area also lodged objections.

In its objection, the Shrewsbury Road Residential and Environmental Protection Association stated that "a proposal of this magnitude would severely damage the area".

"This stretch of road is purely residential and to put what appears to be a consulate office in its midst not only reduces the quality of living for current residents but may set a dangerous precedent which would ultimately and in time destroy the very fabric of family living," they stated in their objection.

In its objection, the Upper Leeson Street Area Residents Association told the city council that it had "grave concerns".

Threatens

"It threatens to change the character of the area by reducing the stock of family homes and by bringing to a settled residential area the unwelcome trappings of embassy offices such as security apparatus; fortress-like barricades and railings; noisy flags and flagpoles in front gardens; excess vehicular and pedestrian traffic and security concerns associated with protests outside these offices," Constance Dowling, on behalf of the association, said.

Secretary of the Ailesbury Road Residents Association, Kathy Smurfit, claimed that "a development of this scale is completely out of proportion with the adjacent terraced houses, constitutes an unacceptable impact on the immediate neighbours and is out of character with the area".

In response to concerns expressed by residents and Dublin City Council, the ambassador reduced the scale of the extension.

In the city council planning report giving the proposal the go-ahead, it stated that "the proposed development with limited staff and critically a limited number of potential visitors would not have a negative impact on the amenity or architectural quality of the area".

However, that decision has now been put on hold with the Merrion Residents Association lodging a 27-page appeal to the appeals board.

A decision is due to be made by An Bord Pleanala later this year.

Irish Independent

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