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Barrister raps Dunne's plan for office block

Sean Dunne's plans for a Ballsbridge office block are "symptomatic of the chaos" in the property market, a top barrister has said.

Mountbrook Riverside IV Investment, of which Mr Dunne is a director, has applied for permission to demolish Hume House on Pembroke Road.

The proposal is to knock down the eight to nine-storey block, one of the tallest buildings in the suburb, and replace it with another nine-storey complex.

Objecting to the scheme, James O'Reilly said the application was based on the premise that Ballsbridge required more office development.


He added in a letter to the council that there is a "gross over supply" of these types of schemes throughout the city.

"The application is symptomatic of the chaos that has descended upon the Irish property market," said Mr O'Reilly, who has an address on nearby Raglan Road.

Business tycoon Dermot Desmond has also come out against the project, saying any proposal to replace the "ugly" Hume House is "critically important".

He said there is a "sound planning basis" to refuse the application, citing the "absence of a guiding planning strategy for the area" as a reason.

Heritage body An Taisce also objected to the plan, as did local residents associations.

A spokesman for Mr Dunne did not comment on the objections.

The developer acquired the property near the market peak in a deal which valued Hume House at around €130m.

The deal subsequently became the subject of a legal dispute with estate agents CB Richard Ellis (CBRE), which alleged Mr Dunne had withheld some of the fees for the transaction.

Mr Dunne had counter-claimed that CBRE had advised him to buy Hume House for €130m, when the nearest competing bid was €102m and its true value was between €65m and €95m.

CBRE said it advised Mr Dunne it could not justify significantly more than €65m for the property.

It denied its directors had persuaded him to bid €130m.

Following a court hearing, the two parties reached an out- of-court settlement whose terms included the payment of €1m to CBRE and the withdrawal of the allegations.

The Hume House plan is one of three high-profile projects in Ballsbridge that the developer is seeking permission for from the city council.

He also wants to build a massive mixed-use scheme at the site of the former Jurys/Berkeley Court hotels and another scheme at the AIB Bankcentre.

City planners are seeking further details from the developer with regard to both of these applications.

The city council is due to issue a decision on Hume House this week.