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Saturday 20 October 2018

Bord Pleanala blocks demolition of Ireland’s first skyscraper Liberty Hall

Liberty Hall
Liberty Hall
Paul Melia

Paul Melia

THE country’s first skyscraper, Liberty Hall, will remain a feature on the Dublin skyline after An Bord Pleanala refused permission to demolish the building.

Trade union SIPTU had been granted planning permission by Dublin City Council last year to demolish the 17-storey, 60 metre building and replace it with a 22-storey building of more than 93 metres.

But in its ruling, the board said the site was of “national historic and social significance”, and that it was a protected structure of “primary importance”.

The planning appeals board appeared to rule out a further application to develop the site.

In a unanimous decision, it said it did not agree with its planning inspector that the cause for the demolition of Liberty Hall had been “justified”.

One of the capital’s most polarising buildings, Liberty Hall was designed by Desmond Rea O’Kelly and completed in 1965.

It received plaudits at the time, including being commended by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Gold Medal awards, but has since become dilapidated and unsuitable for modern office requirements.

The new Liberty Hall, designed by Gilroy McMahon, would include new offices, a public heritage centre, café, theatre and a “skydeck” viewing facility which would provide views across the city.

However, the decision was appealed by An Taisce, Irish Life Assurance company and others, with planning inspector Mary Crowley recommending refusal.

An Bord Pleanala’s ruling said: “Notwithstanding the quality of the architectural design, it is considered that the scale and in particular, the height of the development as proposed, would be unacceptably dominant in the city,” it ruled.

“It would be visually intrusive in the streetscape and riverscape and would seriously injure the visual amenities of the city and its skyline.”

The proposed development would also “seriously detract” from the Custom House, and would “intrude” on other important views across the city.

The 162-page ruling is available on www.pleanala.ie.

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