Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Nuns' order plans to redevelop Rathmines site

PLANS BY the Sisters of St Louis to redevelop the 3.5-acre site of their convent school in Rathmines, Dublin, are to be opposed by local residents who are concerned about the “excessive scale” of what is being proposed.

The order of nuns, which runs the successful St Louis High School, lodged a planning application with Dublin City Council before Christmas for a scheme that would include 86 apartments in blocks up to five storeys high on its playing fields.

The proposed development also includes the demolition of a Victorian house, No 1 Grosvenor Road, as well as a former chapel, and the construction of a new four-storey convent building with the St Louis grotto relocated in its private garden.

It also provides for a new two-storey sports hall on the northwest corner of the site, a new basketball court, 83-car parking spaces below a landscaped podium and the creation of an area of public open space at the corner of Charleville Road.

Kevin Donovan, a resident of one of the listed villa-style houses on Charleville Road, said most of his neighbours were opposed to the plan, on the basis that its “excessive scale” would be inconsistent with the conservation area status” of the locality.

He said they were also concerned about the traffic and parking implications of the scheme – designed by Murray O’Laoire Architects – as well as the loss of trees, open space and a “very fine” granite boundary wall along the Charleville Road frontage.

For some time, the sisters of St Louis and their estate agents, Bannon Property Consultants, have been considering development options for part of the convent school site where three basketball courts are currently located.

The school itself will not be affected.

“The scale and density of this proposed development has increased dramatically due to falling property values”, Mr Donovan said.

“To make the profit to fund the nuns residential block and school sports hall, a greater development is now required.”

Under the latest plan, the nuns would get a new convent building while the school would get a new indoor sports hall – both to be built by a developer, who has yet to be sourced.

In return, the developer would build the 86 apartments for private sale.

However, Dublin City Council planners may take the view that the proposed development would be in line with their policy to promote higher density residential schemes in inner suburban areas such as Rathmines is well served by public transport.
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