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Saturday 10 June 2023 Dublin: 17°C Developer Johnny Ronan (file photo)
# Courts
Company linked to Johnny Ronan sues Dublin City Council over height restriction guidelines
The firm claims that two of its planning applications could be affected by the restrictions.

A COMPANY LINKED to developer Johnny Ronan has brought a High Court challenge over Dublin City Council’s legal interpretation of building height guidelines.

The action has been brought by Spencer Place Development Company Ltd, of which Ronan is a director.

The firm claims the interpretation may have an adverse effect on two applications it has pending before the local authority for permission to increase the height of several buildings it is currently constructing.

The construction is taking place on lands it has leased at Spencer Place, Spencer Dock Dublin which is located in the North Lotts and Grand Canal Strategic Development Zone (SDZ).

One of the developments has been earmarked as an aparthotel and residential development, while the other development will be used by software company Salesforce.

Development plan

In its judicial review proceedings, the company claims the council erroneously adopted a legal interpretation of the building height guidelines in a document entitled “Briefing Note on City Development Plan and Height Guidelines”.

The document was prepared by DCC’s planners at the end of January and was presented to its elected members in March.

The company claims that the interpretation adopted by DCC means that a Specific Planning Policy Requirement, which in general terms provides for increased building heights, does not apply when determining planning applications for developments in an SDZ.

Earlier this year the company applied to DCC to amend existing planning permissions, aimed at allowing it to construct additional storeys on the buildings it is constructing.

The additional height proposed in the planning applications is in excess of the maximum building heights set out in the planning scheme for lands at Spencer Place.

Under the 2014 North Lotts and Grand Canal planning scheme, the maximum building heights are eight storeys for commercial buildings, and ten storeys for residential buildings.

The company claims that the council’s interpretation has exposed it to serious risks in relation to the delivery of the developments.

There is also a limited period of time available for it to provide the additional floor space which are the subjects of the planning permissions, it argues.

It claims that the legal interpretation adopted by the council means that the local authority has restrained its ability to grant the company the planning permissions it has sought.

Performance of functions

The council has denied this in correspondence to the company, and says the applications will be given full and proper consideration.

Represented by Eamon Galligan SC, Suzanne Murray BL, and instructed by Neil OMahony and Aonghus McClafferty of Eversheds Sutherland, the company is seeking various declarations from the court.

These include a declaration that Dublin City Council’s legal interpretation contained in the document entitled “Briefing Note on City Development Plan and Height Guidelines” does not apply to Strategic Development Zones and is incorrect as a matter of law.

It is also seeking a declaration that the Specific Planning Policy Requirement has legal effect and that the council must apply it in the performance of its functions, including in its determination of the two planning applications.

The firm further seeks a declaration that the council must comply with building height guidelines contained in the Specific Planning Policy Requirement when determining applications for building heights exceeding those set out in the 2014 North Lotts and Grand Canal Planning Scheme.

Permission to bring the challenge was granted on an ex parte basis by Mr Justice Michael McGrath.

The judge made the action returnable to a date in May.

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Aodhan O'Faolain & Ray Managh