The never-ending controversy surrounding the proposed U2 tower in Dublin has taken yet another twist after conservationists warned of potential legal action over the latest plans by Foster + Partners.
An Taisce, the National Trust of Ireland, said it had ‘serious concerns about the behind-the-scenes process’ adopted by landowner Dublin Docklands Development Agency (DDDA), which picked the 120m-tall scheme by Foster following a developer-led contest last month.
The trust is claiming that neither itself nor the public has been consulted on the new tower, and that it has not seen any environmental impact assessment reports – even though the scheme could have a detrimental impact on the city and is 40m-taller than previous ditched proposals by Dublin-based Craig Henry Architects and Burdon Dunne Architects.
Such reports had been supplied to support the DDDA's original masterplan for the area, however a trust spokesman told the AJ he feared the 'dramatically different' proposals could be given the go-ahead without either renewed consultation or a revised environmental statement, because of the authority's special planning powers.
The trust did not rule out instigating legal proceedings to force the DDDA to carry out a new environmental report which could hold up the development, backed by Ballymore Properties. Ian Ritchie’s Spire on the other side of the city was similarly delayed to allow for a full environmental impact assessment.
An Taisce’s heritage officer Ian Lumley said: ‘We were taken completely by surprise by this dramatically different scheme. We are not getting the information and the city is being kept in the dark.
‘We welcome the likes of Foster but there is a right way to do things and there has been a lack of explanation of the legal process.’
He added: ‘We were happy with height of the previous scheme, but we see this as deviating from the DDDA’s original masterplan and so these proposals must be subject to an environmental impact assessment.’
However a spokesman for the DDDA rubbished the claims, saying: 'The development of the Docklands masterplan and the planning schemes included extensive consultation and the public and local residents had plenty of opportunity for involvement in the process.
'There was a full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) report on the U2 Tower conducted as part of the recent amendment to the Planning Scheme for the Grand Canal Dock area. This was made available during the public consultation process and was submitted with the amended Planning Scheme by the Docklands Authority to the Minister for approval under Section 25 of the Dublin Docklands Act 1997.'