Sunday 25 August 2019

Controversial city building plan approved

The new development will be close to Dublin Castle
The new development will be close to Dublin Castle
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

An Bord Pleanála has given the go-ahead to a controversial multi-million-euro student-accommodation scheme in Dublin city centre that is to be built by a company owned by former Ulster Bank chief financial officer Charles McManus.

The council had rejected plans for the mixed-use accommodation and retail project, which will extend to as many as seven storeys, arguing buildings on Stephen Street Upper should not be demolished. The new development will include 284 student-accommodation units.

The scheme is being undertaken by a company called Kesteven.

Its directors are Mr McManus, with an address in Surrey, and John Pryor, also in the UK. Mr McManus owns the company, however.

Properties on Aungier Street and Stephen Street Upper will be demolished as part of the project.

The development site is located to the south of Dublin Castle, and nearby buildings include the Dunnes Stores headquarters as well as a former Dunlop factory.

A company controlled by Dunnes Stores owners Frank Dunne, Margaret Hefferan and other members of their families, had also expressed concerns that the development might negatively impact on natural lighting at the Dunnes Stores HQ. Those concerns were allayed, however.

The centre of the site for the planned development is dominated by a former dance hall, which was known as The Coffin due to its shape.

The council had opposed the development, claiming that to allow it would "create an undesirable precedent for similar developments within the area and as such would seriously injure the amenity of property in the vicinity".

It insisted that the project would be "contrary to the proper planning and suitable development of the area".

But An Bord Pleanála has determined that the project should be allowed to go ahead, but with about two dozen conditions attached.

The developer has also proposed to retain some of the historic buildings on Aungier Street, despite the fact that they are in states of serious disrepair.

Mr McManus left Ulster Bank in 2012.

Irish Independent

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