Dublin City Council has begun a legal challenge against An Bord Pleanála for allowing extra building height in a development by a company connected to Johnny Ronan.

Spencer Place Development Company wants to increase the maximum height to 13 storeys for two residential blocks beside Sheriff Street in the north city although it is part of a Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) which only permits ten storeys.

It is the city council's case that an SDZ can only be amended through a process that includes a fresh round of public consultation.

The company drew up a revised plan with extra height involving a total of 584 apartments and co-living units following new ministerial guidelines issued at the end of 2018.

When Dublin City Council informed Spencer Place Development that this would be in breach of SDZ regulations, the company took an unsuccessful High Court challenge with its case being dismissed on all counts last May.

The company then appealed the council's refusal to An Bord Pleanála whose inspector recommended a refusal of permission agreeing that the development was in breach of the SDZ planning scheme for Grand Canal Dock and North Lotts.

However, the board overruled the inspector and granted permission for the application which increases one block from seven to 13 storeys and a second from seven to 11.

In its decision the board said as there are draft amendments proposed for the SDZ it considered the development "broadly compliant".

Dublin City Council has now applied to the High Court for a judicial review and it is understood it is arguing that An Bord Pleanála did not give adequate reasons for overruling its inspector.

The board said it is taking legal advice and will give the case top priority.

The city council also objected to the new scheme on a number of other grounds which involve increasing the number of apartments to 464 along with a change of use from an aparthotel to a 84 unit co-living element comprising 200 beds.

The council said the co-living scheme differs from other such developments by having "clusters" of these units alongside self-contained apartments and the council argued that this would "result in an insular form of occupancy that would fail to provide future occupants with the opportunity to experience a shared community environment".

Its submission to the council also stated that the development was of "poor design" and would be "bulky and inelegant and represent a monolithic appearance".

Local councillors said residents in Mayor St and New Wapping St were concerned about the buildings being "overlooking, overbearing and overshadowing."