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Sunday 18 November 2018

High-profile property developer Johnny Ronan will appeal again as tower plan is rejected

Johnny Ronan (inset the proposed building)
Johnny Ronan (inset the proposed building)
Niamh Horan

Niamh Horan

High-profile property developer Johnny Ronan has had his hopes to build Dublin's tallest building dashed for a second time - but has vowed to appeal again.

His company Ronan Group Real Estate (RGRE) received word last Friday evening that the company's new scaled-back scheme had been rejected by Dublin City Council (DCC).

A spokesperson for RGRE said: "We are very disappointed by this decision. The height of our proposal is fully compliant with Dublin City Council's own Local Area Plan (LAP) for the site. We will appeal this decision to An Bord Pleanala."

The company's original plan for the Tara Street site had been subject to a thorough oral hearing in March, during which An Bord Pleanala's own inspector delivered a glowing report on the proposed building.

Inspector Gillian Kane said the original Tara Street Tower would have been a valuable addition to the city's architecture. On the design, she stated it would "be beautiful". But the appeals board ignored the recommendation and narrowly voted against her findings by four members to three.

Mr Ronan then went back to the plans and revised the scheme to fit in with the council's draft guidelines on building heights and residential densities.

His company has spent almost three years at the drawing board, submitting more than 60 different designs to DCC - in addition to the backing from the board's inspector.

But the council once again rejected the appeal on the grounds of ''visual impact''. Their decision comes despite the fact that the Government recently issued new draft guidelines, increasing height and density - particularly on major transport hubs - in the city.

Mr Ronan's proposed building is planned to sit on top of Dublin's proposed Metro station.

Speaking to the Sunday Independent, the project design specialist Richard Coleman expressed his ''astonishment'' at the decision.

"The new design takes account of the planning board's previous reasons for refusal," he said.

"It follows the city's recently restated brief for the site, a landmark accommodating fundamental public benefits for station users.

"But more, it includes a publicly accessible top and, yes, it's visible in Dublin's famous central townscape. How could a landmark be otherwise?"

He added: "If the board's inspector praises it - as was the case with the last version - surely the board will recognise the current merits and waste no time in giving it the go-ahead? I certainly hope so."

The new tower would accommodate almost 900 office workers, a 106-bedroom hotel over four floors and a restaurant on the top floor with an open terrace. The estimated economic boost stands at €280m a year.

Recently, An Bord Pleanala rejected a scheme by the city council for a pedestrian plaza at College Green.

Meanwhile, a source close to RGRE said their next appeal had already been written and said: "An Bord Pleanala will have it by Monday morning."

Sunday Independent

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