Bord Pleanala saves Liberty Hall from the wrecking ball
PLANS by the country's big-gest trade union, SIPTU, to demolish and redevelop Liberty Hall have been rejected.
An Bord Pleanala has refused permission to demolish the building and replace it with a 23-storey mixed-use development which would be 93 metres tall – 30 metres taller than the existing structure.
And the planning appeals board also appears to have ruled out a further application to develop the site.
In a unanimous decision, it said it did not agree demolishing the structure was "justified".
One of the capital's most polarising buildings, Liberty Hall was designed by Desmond Rea O'Kelly and completed in 1965 on a site which has links to the 1916 Rising and the Lockout.
It was the country's first skyscraper, and received plaudits at the time including being commended by the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Gold Medal awards.
It has since become dilapidated and unsuitable for modern office requirements, which prompted SIPTU to announce plans to redevelop it in 2006.
Dublin City Council granted planning permission last year for a new building, to include offices, a public heritage centre, cafe, theatre and a "skydeck" viewing facility which would provide views across the city.
However, the decision was appealed by An Taisce, Irish Life Assurance and others, with planning inspector Mary Crowley recommending refusal.
In its ruling, the board said the site was of "national historic and social significance", and that it was a structure of "primary importance".
"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.
SIPTU said it was "dis-appointed" with the decision.
"The union, our architects and professional advisers have put five years' hard work into this project including an enormous amount of consultation with Dublin City Council, our members and other key stakeholders including the local community," general secretary Joe O'Flynn said.
"Given that the city council saw fit earlier this year to grant us planning permission for the redevelopment of Liberty Hall, we are extremely disappointed that this decision has now been overturned by An Bord Pleanala."