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Dublin nuns in planning battle to protect their right to 'worship in peace and safety'

Kerry man Derek Twiss is seeking planning permission to construct two apartments at Lansdowne Terrace.

An image of the proposed apartments
An image of the proposed apartments

A GROUP OF nuns in Dublin 4 are engaged in a planning battle to protect their right “to worship in peace and safety”. 

Kerry man Derek Twiss is currently seeking planning permission to construct two apartments over three storeys at Lansdowne Terrace at Shelbourne Road and Lansdowne Lane in the shadow of the Aviva Stadium in Dublin 4. 

As part of the scheme, a duplex apartment is to have a private terrace at first floor level.

A number of objections have been lodged against the proposed scheme by local residents including a strident objection lodged by the Missionary Sisters of Our Lady of Apostles of Shelbourne Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4. 

In the Missionary Sisters’ submission, Sister Julie Doran has told Dublin City Council that that they are opposed to the development “as we feel that it would have a significant negative impact on our long standing small community and way of life”.

Sister Doran argues that the proposed structure “would constitute an overbearing development looking immediately onto our property at every floor”. 

She contends that “we are concerned about issues around our security and privacy and our right to live in peace”. 

Sister Doran explains that “all of us have spent on average 40 years working in Africa with deprived communities and subsequently moved back to Ireland for our retirement years”. 

She says: “We work amongst the poor and disadvantaged of Dublin City and are an integral part of our local community”. 

Sister Doran states that “particular to us as an order of religious missionary nuns is the impact on our place of worship, a sacred chapel which is within their property”. 

“This chapel, where the nuns daily practice their religion, is also a focus for the local community to congregate as a place of worship,” she says.

She adds: “Places of worship should be sanctuaries where worshippers feel safe to practise their faith without impediment. 

“This proposal interferes with our right to worship in peace and safety.

“The proposed development would impact on our privacy both of our residence and the adjoining open spaces. My fellow Sisters and I are particularly concerned about the impact from being overlooked by balconies on the proposed structures infringing our right to privacy and the peaceful enjoyment of our home.” 

Sister Doran also states: “We are concerned about the potential noise and nuisance from balconies directly facing our amenity area.” 

She told the city council: “We place our trust in your good judgement and urge you to reject this application to preserve our enjoyment of our home.” 

Taking on board the nuns’ concerns, Dublin City Council has refused planning permission for the Twiss proposal. 

The Council refused planning permission having regard to the scale, bulk and height and proximity of the three storey scheme to neighbouring properties.

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The Council stated that the proposal would result in a visually obtrusive form of development and set an undesirable precedent for other unsuitable types of development.

However, Twiss has now appealed the Council refusal to An Bord Pleanala resulting in the nuns facing a fresh challenge to prevent the scheme going ahead.

In an appeal lodged on behalf of Twiss by consultants Brock McClure, they argue that “the development represents an appropriate level of development at this location”.

Planning consultant, Laura Brock “completely refutes” the Council’s conclusion that overdevelopment is proposed at the site.

Brock states that the proposal “represents a high quality development which responds to the immediate surrounds and fulfills the obligations of all strategic guidance and meets the standards contained in the statutory development plan”.

Brock states that the proposal can in no way be described as ‘visually obtrusive’ and on the contrary assimilates successfully into its surrounds and provides a new and modern intervention into the streetscape”.

A decision is due on the appeal in September.

About the author:

Gordon Deegan

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