Cairn Homes gets permission for apartments and hotel on former RTÉ land

Conditions on site working hours, the commissioning of public artwork and payment of €9.9m development contribution are attached to approval

Dublin City Council has granted planning permission to Cairn Homes for a major mixed-use development on former RTÉ lands at Montrose in Dublin 4, conditional on the developer paying close to €10 million to the local authority.

The decision, which comes more than five years after the company bought the eight-acre site from RTÉ for €107.5 million, followed a lengthy process in which Cairn Homes was required to lodge a revised application in October.

An Bord Pleanála initially granted Cairn permission for a €338 million 614-unit scheme across nine apartment blocks, ranging from four to 10 storeys in height.

However, in 2021, the board consented to a High Court order quashing its permission on foot of complaints by three local residents, including Pat Desmond, wife of financier Dermot Desmond, who objected to the scale of the scheme. Mr Desmond, a vocal opponent of the scheme, had described the proposal as “Ballymun Towers South Dublin” in a letter to Dublin city councillors.


Cairn submitted an application in October this year for an even larger scheme, looking to build 688 apartments comprising 416 build-to-rent apartments and 272 build-to-sell units, a 192-bedroom hotel, 17 “age-friendly living” units and a creche facility, among other amenities across 10 blocks.

The revised application came more than five months after Dublin City Council provided Cairn with a detailed formal opinion following statutory pre-application discussions on the firm’s proposal under the new Large Scale Residential Development system.

Dermot Desmond, a vocal opponent of the scheme, had described the proposal as “Ballymun Towers South Dublin” in a letter to Dublin city councillors

The local authority has now granted permission for the development, which will see Cairn demolish the former RTÉ sports and social club and structures attached to the former Fair City set.

However, planners said that the permission was subject to a number of conditions. Cairn is required to pay a €9.9 million development contribution to the authority “in respect of the public infrastructure and facilities benefiting” the development in the area.

“The contribution is payable on commencement of development”, according to the text of the decision, published on Thursday. The developer is required to lodge a cash deposit or a bond of an insurance company or bank prior to commencement.

Other conditions attached to the permission include the addition of privacy screens for the balconies of a number of the blocks and that the balcony railings be replaced with “obscure glass panels”.

Cairn will also have to commission and a install a public artwork for an open space within the development “in the interest of enhancing and animating the public domain”, planners said.

Site works may only be carried out during the week between 7am and 6pm, and on Saturdays between 8pm and 2pm. No activity is allowed on site on Sundays or public holidays, the authority decided, “in order to safeguard the amenities of adjoining residential occupiers”.

The decision is likely to be appealed.

Local residents had objected to the original nine-block scheme, arguing that the scale and density was far in excess of what is permitted under the Dublin City Development Plan, would overlook and overshadow their homes and be “totally out of keeping” with an area consisting of low-rise Victorian or Edwardian-type houses.

Ian Curran

Ian Curran

Ian Curran is a Business reporter with The Irish Times