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The tycoon and embassy who could stop RTE plan

FAMILIES are gearing up for a battle with RTE after a date was set for a hearing into the station's €350m campus plan.

An Bord Pleanala has fixed September 20 as the start date for the public inquiry, which is expected to be attended by representatives of businessman Dermot Desmond, the German ambassador and many others.

The oral hearing will take place in the Stillorgan Park Hotel. It comes after Dublin City Council gave the go-ahead for the redevelopment of Montrose, despite strong opposition from residents in Donnybrook.

The so-called Project 2025 will see a complete overhaul of RTE's studios. Residents in the Nutley Avenue and Ailesbury Road area have been holding meetings to prepare for the hearing.

Mr Desmond, the business tycoon, believes the new structures will be "intrusive".

In his letter, he said: "I am entitled to be protected from insensitive and inappropriate development and to expect all necessary measures will be introduced so to minimise the impact on this property."

If An Bord Pleanala decides in favour of the project, construction will begin in 2012.

The scheme will see the building of a new broadcasting facility, incorporating new studios for TV and radio. A new auditorium for RTE's orchestras will also be built.

RTE director general Cathal Goan said: "To remain competitive and to continue to give Irish viewers, listeners and web users the best possible services, we have to invest in new facilities built for the digital age."

Protected

The broadcaster was granted permission in April for building works on the 31-acre Montrose site. The redevelopment will entail removing most of the 1960s and 1970s buildings for a 46,500sqm complex.

An Taisce said the buildings should not be demolished because they include protected structures of national importance. It wrote to the city council asking it to add the entire campus to the register of protected structures, saying it represented a "major planning and architectural achievement".

The German embassy raised security issues with RTE.

The new, more concentrated complex designed by Scott Tallon Walker (STW), architects of the original buildings, will, if approved, be built in five phases at the north end of the site.

Rising to an overall height of almost 26 metres, the complex will taper down to 10.4 metres (34ft) facing the long rear gardens of houses along Nutley Road and screened by mature trees.

comurphy@herald.ie