Johnny Ronan's Dublin tower has been panned as 'highly obtrusive' and 'devoid of elegance'

An Taisce’s objection said the 22-storey building would be a ‘massive intrusion’ on the city’s skyline.

By Conor McMahon Deputy editor, Fora

CONSERVATION GROUP AN Taisce has urged Dublin City Council to refuse planning permission for Johnny Ronan’s 22-storey Tara Street tower, saying the proposed building would be “highly obtrusive”.

In a letter to the council, the charity voiced concerns about the scale of the project and the impact it might have on nearby historical buildings.

Last month, Ronan – a high-profile, Celtic Tiger developer who exited Nama two years ago – lodged plans to build an 88m building on a site adjoining Tara Street Dart Station. The plans included a 110-bedroom hotel and a rooftop bar.

If the building is given the green light, it will become Dublin’s tallest storied building, dwarfing Google’s 67m headquarters in Grand Canal Dock – another Ronan development – and the 59m Liberty Hall on Eden Quay.

IDA Ireland and the National Transport Authority are among the groups that have already thrown their weight behind the project.

Property consultancy firm Knight Frank said there was an “urgent need” for the tower, adding that it would help Dublin in the “international war for talent”.

Johnny Ronan Johnny Ronan
Source: Laura Hutton/Photocall Ireland

However An Taisce said in its letter to Dublin City Council that it believed the tower would cast a “significant shadow” over the Custom House on the opposite side of the Liffey, particularly in wintertime.

It argued that the project “would detrimentally affect” buildings of architectural importance on the quays and could harm architectural conservation areas on O’Connell Street and Grafton Street.

“In its current form, the proposed 22-storey building … would constitute a massive intrusion on the established skyline of inner-city Dublin,” it said.

The environmental organisation also took issue with the construction’s aesthetics, which it described as “extremely dull”.

“The current proposal for George’s Quay is a plain, commercial-spec glass tower devoid of any particular elegance or style in terms of its form and profile,” it said.

Protected structures

A number of objections have been lodged with the council since the start of the month, including a report commissioned by the owner of Kennedy’s pub on George’s Quay – a protected structure that was also namechecked in An Taisce’s letter.

The submission, written by consultancy firm Downey Planning on behalf of Ciarán Kennedy, said the size of the tower would have “serious detrimental impacts” on the publican’s property. Members of his family have worked in the pub and lived above the premises since 1922.

James Brennan, the owner of Tara Leather shop and a neighbour of Kennedy’s pub, said in his objection letter that construction works could damage the protected building.

“The proposed development will be almost touching Kennedy’s building,” he said, “which is an old structure and vulnerable to damage from heavy construction and vibrations required to lay foundation.”

He said he did not believe the environmental impact statement submitted with Ronan’s planning application took into account “the effects of loss of light and overshadowing on Tara Leathers’ premises and neighbouring business”.

“We have not (been) approached by the developer in question at any stage and we would be concerned that this is indicative of casual attitude towards the well-being of the historic buildings in the area,” Brennan said.

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