Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers (Resumed). - Leeson Park (Dublin) Planning Permission.


asked the Minister for Local Government if he will state his grounds for over-ruling the decision of Dublin Corporation planning department on planning permission for offices in Leeson Park.

The planning application to which the Deputy refers related to the change of use of a house at Leeson Park and did not involve any alterations to the existing structure. The basic objection to the grant of permission was that the building is in an area zoned in the draft development plan as solely residential and should therefore be kept in use as a residential property. I should make it clear that, in dealing with an appeal under the Local Government (Planning and Development) Act, 1963, I am restricted to considering the proper planning and development of the area regard being had to the provisions of the draft development plan. While the building is in an area zoned in the draft development plan as solely residential, I also took account of the following planning considerations:

(a) Because of the size and nature of the building, it would be most unlikely to remain in use as a single residence. Conversion of the building to flats, or the erection of a new apartment block on the site would be the most likely result of restricting the property to residential use.

(b) The building is in a street of fine architectural quality, and it has its own quality which should, if possible, be preserved as part of the street. It was most likely to be preserved in its present form and condition if used as an office in suitable conditions.

(c) Grant of permission for change of use in the case of a single building—in this case an exceptional one—is not inconsistent with maintaining the general principle of preserving the residential zoning of the street. Individual exceptions to general rules—in appropriate cases —are not rare in zoning control, and indeed the 1963 Act did not envisage the same rigidity as the Planning Acts which preceded it.

I also took note of the fact that the corporation had, in fact, granted permission under section 4 of the Housing Act, 1969, for the change of use of premises. I therefore decided that, on balance, the proper planning and development of the area would best be served by granting permission for a change of use to offices, subject to the following conditions:

(1) The existing building to be retained and no external alterations thereto to be carried out.

(2) No sign or advertisement to be erected on the building or in the grounds thereof except with the consent of the planning authority and only one such sign to be erected and such sign not to exceed two square feet in area.

(3) The existing front garden, including the grassed areas to be maintained as such, and no part of the said garden to be paved, concreted or tarmacadamed.