The owners of Ashford Castle have been granted a building permit for a “boutique” five-star hotel with 60 bedrooms for the capital.
An Bord Pleanala has granted a building permit to Red Carnation Hotels (UK) Ltd for the conversion and expansion of a former Jesuit university student’s residence in Hatch Hall into a 60-bedroom hotel.
The plan – which includes a new extension of eight floors – was put on hold last year after resident Brian O’Regan appealed the decision of the Dublin City Council to give the project the green light.
However, the Board of Appeal has now granted a building permit for the plan after concluding that the hotel development “would constitute an acceptable degree of development in this urban accessible site.”
The board also concluded that the hotel would not impair the character of the mixed use area and would not seriously damage the amenities of the surrounding properties or the visual amenities of the area.
The board also granted a building permit after finding that the hotel would not diminish the setting of the protected structure at the site, Hatch Hall.
The board said in its decision that it took into account the national planning policy, which aims to steer new buildings in cities to built-up service areas.
O’Regan of Hatch Place, Dublin 2, who lived near the proposed development site, hired BPS Planning Consultants to prepare the 30-page appeal.
Brendan Buck of BPS Planning Consultants told the board that neither O’Regan nor his family have any objections in principle to the proposed development, which is located between Earlsfort Terrace and Leeson Street.
However, the appeal claimed that the proposed development should be refused authorization under seven separate headings.
In the appeal, Buck claimed that the eight-story tower of the hotel would have a negative impact on the O’Regan property, the street scene and the Georgian context within the area.
Mr Buck argued that the tower’s density, height, scale, mass and bulk were such that it would represent a visually intrusive and visually dominant addition to the area’s skyline.
“The proposed development would remove all of our client’s integrity and reduce their potential for integrity in the future,” the appeal said.
“Our client has children and he does not want the residents of this hotel to be able to look down at his property and see his children play,” it added.
However, Board Inspector Pauline Fitzpatrick recommended that a building permit be granted.
Ms Fitzpatrick concluded that “the proposed development would not seriously harm the amenities of the area to such an extent that it would adversely affect the enjoyment or value of nearby properties.”
In his conclusions, Fitzpatrick accepted that the redevelopment of the site poses some challenges due to its location and context and that a balance must be struck between maximizing the development potential of this important city center and its architectural and cultural heritage and the surrounding area.
However, Fitzpatrick found that “the proposed development is acceptable in terms of the area’s cultural and built heritage, would not diminish the same in terms of its form and integrity and will contribute positively to the area’s character and vitality.”
CBRE Director John Hughes told the Dublin City Council that although Dublin has a strong “pipeline” of hotels, only 3% are rated 5-star.
Mr Hughes stated that there is currently a limited range of five-star hotels in Dublin, which make up only 12 of the 214 hotels in the capital, corresponding to 1,793 bedrooms or an 8% share.
Hatch Hall is a protected structure and planning consultant for Red Carnation, John Spain said that its use as a five-star hotel “would ensure that the building is restored and preserved, protecting it into the future with sustainable use.”
Reporting by Gordon Deegan
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