Friday 24 November 2017

Dunne's new D4 plan gets all-clear from city council

'Baron of Ballsbridge' wins first round in fight to redevelop iconic sites

Ronald Quinlan

Ronald Quinlan

SEAN Dunne's plans to redevelop the Jurys and Berkeley court site in Ballsbridge have been given the green light by Dublin City Council.

Approval for the Carlow-born developer's revised proposal for the site, for which he famously paid €380m in 2005, was given by Dublin city planners last Thursday with just one condition attached to the planning permission.

According to this, Mr Dunne's Mountbrook Homes will be required to change the use of one ground floor apartment for retail use or a restaurant.

Elsewhere in the proposed redevelopment of the six-acre site -- the man who famously earned the title of 'Baron of Ballsbridge' for his stated determination to bring a piece of Knightsbridge to Dublin -- has been given the go-ahead to build a 15-storey tower as well as a new 135-bedroom hotel, apartments, shops and a range of public services.

While the granting of planning permission for the €300m redevelopment from Dublin City Council will almost certainly be appealed by opponents of Dunne's ambitious plan, the Mountbrook Homes chief will take heart from An Bord Pleanala's approval earlier last week for his plans for nearby Hume House, which he purchased in a €130m land swap deal with Irish Life and Permanent in 2005.

The planning appeals board gave the go-ahead last Wednesday for Mountbrook Homes to demolish the existing 1960s office block and construct a nine-storey building in its place.

All in all, it's been a very good week for Sean Dunne. Yesterday, he and his wife, Gayle, were at home in Dublin to celebrate the christening of their third son, Ryan, who was born last May. Unsurprisingly, the proud father was unavailable for comment on the granting of planning permission he had just received from Dublin City Council.

While it is understood that he is happy with the decision, sources close to the Mountbrook chief maintained that he wasn't about to prejudge the outcome of the almost-inevitable appeal that will be lodged by opponents of the D4 scheme.

Dunne's plans for both Hume House and the Jurys and Berkeley Court hotel sites have been the subject of strenuous opposition from local residents from day one, with a number of powerful individuals including the billionaire businessman Dermot Desmond throwing their considerable weight behind the campaign of resistance.

Indeed, in his written observations on Dunne's original plans for the Jurys site to An Bord Pleanala, Mr Desmond variously referred to the proposed structures as being "fundamentally flawed" and "clearly unacceptable".

At a public hearing called by An Bord Pleanala to consider Dunne's original application for the site, senior counsel Colm MacEochaidh, who represented no less than 11 local residents' associations, described the buildings proposed for Ballsbridge as "oppressive and monolithic in design".

"The people who live in Ballsbridge have no wish to live in Knightsbridge," Mr MacEochaidh charged.

But there have been other high-profile supporters for Sean Dunne along the way, who are keen to see the old Jurys and the Berkeley Court hotels -- which are now trading under the D4 Hotels banner -- razed to the ground and replaced with something more in keeping with the 21st Century.

Included in their number is the legendary multimillionaire founder of Penneys, Arthur Ryan. In a rare media outing, Mr Ryan told the Sunday Independent last year of Penneys' intention to develop a 60,000 square foot store on the Jurys Berkeley Court site had the original plan been given the go-ahead.

It is understood that Mr Ryan -- who has since assumed the role of Penneys chairman -- may still be interested in the retailer gaining a foothold in Dunne's revised development.

Sunday Independent

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