The Royal College of Surgeons has been given the go-ahead for the development of a €90 million education and research building in Dublin city centre, despite opposition from local residents and An Taisce.
An Bord Pleanála has upheld the decision of Dublin City Council to grant planning permission to the RCSI for the new third-level education facility.
The centre, which will be up to seven storeys in height, will extend the RCSI campus in the area around St Stephen’s Green and will include research laboratories, classrooms as well as catering, recreational and welfare facilities.
The development requires the demolition of a vacant office block at the Ardilaun Centre – the former Eircom headquarters – on St Stephen’s Green and a smaller office building on Proud’s Lane close to the RCSI’s existing main building.
Rejecting an appeal by several parties including Cuffe Lane Residents Homeowners and An Taisce, the board said the proposed development, subject to a number of planning conditions, would not detract from the visual amenities of the area or the character of adjoining protected structures and the St Stephen’s Green Architectural Conservation Area.
Consultants acting for the RCSI said it would ensure the regeneration of an underutilised site in the city centre and help to enliven the streetscape through encouraging footfall and activity in the surrounding area.
“The proposed development is central to the college’s ability to attract high quality students and staff,” they added.
The RCSI, which was established in 1784, currently has some 3,800 students from 60 countries worldwide.
The college revised its original plans for the new research building by omitting one floor following concerns expressed about its visual impact on a sensitive location and its potential overbearing impact on local residences.
An Taisce had expressed concern that the plans were “not sufficiently sensitive to the historic environs of St Stephen’s Green” or nearby protected structures, including the adjoining Unitarian Church and the well-known restaurant, Shanahan’s on the Green.
Cuffe Lane Residents Homeowners, which also includes residents of an apartment block, Ardilaun Court, said they had serious concerns about the project including disturbance caused by construction work, although they generally welcomed development by the RCSI.
The RCSI has secured a €40 million loan from the European Investment Bank to part-fund the development of its city centre campus.