Friday, March 03, 2023

Gordon Deegan

A private members club has requested that An Bord Pleanala stage an oral hearing into plans to demolish the former Anglo-Irish Bank HQ on Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green and construct a new office block in its place.

In January, Dublin City Council gave the go-ahead to Irish Life Assurance plc subsidiary, Stephen Court Ltd to demolish the former Anglo-Irish Bank HQ at 18-21 St Stephen’s Green and construct in its place a seven-storey office block.

The former Anglo-Irish Bank building also reaches to seven storeys, but the gross floor area of the new scheme will be 50 per cent more than what is currently in place rising from 14.068 sq m to 21,219sq m.

Two third party appeals, including one from neighbours, the Kildare Street and University Club (KSUC) were lodged with An Bord Pleanála putting a question mark over the demolition plan and building scheme.

As part of its appeal, planning consultants for KSUC Kieran O’Malley Town Planning Consultants have told An Bord Pleanála that an oral hearing is merited given the site size, the nature and extent of the proposed works and the sensitive receiving environment.

Consultant, John O’Malley has told the council that the existing building is a fine example of 20th century modernist contextual architecture, which contributes positively to the character, and streetscape of the north side of St Stephen’s Green.

He said that the building occupies a large part of a major urban block within a Conservation Area at the heart of the city centre.

Architectural character

Mr O’Malley points out that the Council’s own Conservation Officer found that the demolition of the entire building would injure the special architectural character, amenities and setting of the Conservation Area.

Advancing the case for an oral hearing, Mr O’Malley states that “a decision with such permanent and profound implications at a highly prominent location warrants further careful consideration where the views of all stakeholders and other interested parties can be considered in person before an Inspector of the board”.

Mr O’Malley states that an oral hearing would examine the issues “in an open and transparent manner”.

He argues that there are alternative solutions to the redevelopment of Stephen’s Court which would be preferable than the demolition of the entire building.

Mr O’Malley states that KSUC operate out of 17 St Stephen’s Green where the property has been used continuously as a  club since 1851.

Providing an indication of the scale of the operation of the club, Mr O’Malley states that it employs 34 full time and eight part-time staff.

He said that the main activity of the club is the serving of lunch and dinner daily and the use and enjoyment of the bars and various rooms for private functions and TV/billiard room by members and their guests.

The four-bay four-storey-over-basement Georgian building also houses 15 bedrooms on the upper floors and are used seven days a week.

Mr O’Malley states that “income from this accommodation contributes significantly to the financial security and profitability of the club”.

On the construction impacts of the proposal, Mr O’Malley states that “the club will operate next to a building site for several years and will inevitably be subject to sustained noise and nuisance over a protracted period of time”.

Mr O’Malley states that “it is astonishing that no estimate of the likely construction phase is provided”.

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