Almost 700 objections lodged against Cobblestone pub plans

Heritage watchdog not in favour of plan for 114-bedroom hotel on Smithfield site

Almost 700 objections have been lodged against plans to build a nine-storey hotel over and adjacent to the Cobblestone pub in Smithfield, Dublin.

On Friday, Dublin City Council confirmed that 688 third-party submissions had been registered and said the final figure would be higher.

The closing date for submissions was Thursday but a number have not yet been formally registered by the council’s planning department.

Marron Estates Ltd is seeking to build a 114-bedroom hotel on the site at King Street in Dublin 7.

The scale of the opposition makes the Cobblestone plan the most contentious Irish planning application in recent times, and a State heritage watchdog has now intervened in the row to say that it is not in favour of the development.

In a four-page submission the development applications unit of the Department of Housing said that “it does not favour the development” for a number of reasons, describing the plan to “overbuild” the hotel on the Cobblestone as “undesirable”.

“Whilst the repair and retention of the cultural use of the Cobblestone would be welcome due to its poor condition, the radical manner of over-building may be regarded as diminishing the significance of the place and the integrity of its setting as an acclaimed cultural venue in the city, ” the unit said.

“The removal of part of the Cobblestone venue and its overall amalgamation and structural integration into a larger hotel use will likely detract from the intimacy and context of the historic structure as a traditional musical venue,” it said.

Prominent objections

The submission outlined the development applications unit’s concerns that the cultural aspect of the Cobblestone might not survive. The pub is a popular venue for traditional Irish music. The watchdog also said that the scheme’s design “would establish inappropriate planning precedent or approach for built heritage in the city”.

Those objecting to the scheme include Steve Wall, a founding member of The Stunning and The Walls.

Sinn Féin leader Mary Lou McDonald, People Before Profit/Solidarity TD Richard Boyd Barrett and Green MEP Ciaran Cuffe have also registered their objections to the proposal.

In his submission Mr wall said: "The Cobblestone is unique. It's one of the last few pubs in Dublin to hear traditional music and to experience Irish culture. Traditional music in a pub is exactly the sort of experience that most tourists coming to Ireland seek out. Not a hotel bar. The proposal to engulf it into a hotel will destroy it."

Mr Wall said the Cobblestone “has been an integral part of Smithfield, and musicians travel to it from all over Dublin ... It must be saved.”

In her objection Ms McDonald said the Cobblestone was “an iconic building” and that the current proposal would “be destructive as it is grossly overdeveloped in terms of height and scale”.

However, a planning report lodged by McCutcheon Halley on behalf of the applicants said the scheme had been designed to respond sensitively to the existing protected structures and would incorporate and adapt these buildings for new use, therefore creating new modern elements that respect the site’s heritage.

McCutcheon Halley said the scheme would “create a vibrant and attractive landmark building”.

A decision is due later this month.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times