DEVELOPER Sean Dunne has been given the green light to build hundreds of apartments and a hotel on one of the most expensive sites in the country.
An Bord Pleanala yesterday approved a massive redevelopment of the Jury's Berkeley Court site in Dublin 4, but nothing will be built until at least 2016.
Mr Dunne bought the 2.8-hectare (7-acre) site in Ballsbridge in 2005 for €380m. At the time, it was a record price paid for land in Ireland.
Last night, he said the hotels on the site would remain open for business and building work would not begin for "at least" five years.
He also thanked his bankers, saying they had been "most supportive" at an "extremely difficult time".
"D4 Hotels, currently employing 250 people, remains open for business and any development will not commence for at least five years," he said.
"I would like to thank our customers of D4 Hotels and our funders Ulster Bank, ACC Bank and Kaupthing Singer & Friedlander, who have been most supportive of the D4 Hotels' operation and planning process in difficult times for bankers, investors and the public."
When he purchased the site in 2005, as the property bubble was racing toward its peak, Mr Dunne spoke of two-bedroom apartments costing upwards of €1.25m and a €10m penthouse.
A planning application for the site, which included a 37-storey tower, was subsequently refused in 2009, but yesterday the planning appeals board approved a scaled-down version.
The permission allows for the development of 490 apartments in 11 blocks, ranging in height from six to 12 storeys.
The plans also include a 151-bedroom hotel, retail space which will include a restaurant, bars, creche and healthcare facilities, and an underground car park.
The plans were opposed by 21 parties, including financier Dermot Desmond, local residents and An Taisce.
Planning consultant Tom Phillips said the apartments were "generous", and that the 25pc of the site would comprise open spaces and be accessible to the public.
"It's keeping a lot of the historic features such as the trees and the railings, and people can walk in and out of it," he said.
But planning inspector Andrew Boyle disagreed, and recommended that the application be refused.
"I consider that the proposed development still represents a gross over-development and over-intensification of use of this site," he said.
"In my view, any redevelopment of the D4 Hotels site should be markedly reduced from the present proposal."
But the board decided to grant permission subject to 26 conditions.
"It would constitute an appropriate mix of land uses at this location, would not seriously injure the amenities of the area or of property in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of urban design," it found.