Dublin resident lodges appeal against Ashford Castle operator’s plan for city hotel

Claim that eight-storey tower would have adverse impact on Dublin 2 streetscape

A Dublin city centre resident has put the brakes on plans by the operator of Ashford Castle to construct a “boutique” five-star 60 bedroom hotel for the capital.

This follows Brian O'Regan lodging an appeal to An Bord Pleanála against Dublin City Council's decision to grant planning to Red Carnation Hotels (UK) Ltd for the conversion and extension of a former Jesuit university students' residence at Hatch Hall into a 60-bedroom hotel.

Living close to the proposed development site, Mr O’Regan of Hatch Place, Dublin 2, has employed BPS Planning Consultants to draw up the appeal which runs to 30 pages.

Brendan Buck of BPS Planning Consultants has told the board that neither Mr O'Regan nor his family have any objection in principle to the proposed development, which is located between Earlsfort Terrace and Leeson Street.


Adverse impact

However, the appeal argues that the proposed development should be refused permission across seven separate headings.

In the appeal, Mr Buck argues that the eight-storey tower element of the hotel would have an adverse impact on the O’Regan property, on the streetscape and the Georgian context within the area.

Mr Buck contends that the tower’s density, height, scale, massing and bulk are such that it would represent a visually obtrusive and visually dominant addition to the skyline of the area.

The appeal argues that cumulatively, the negative impacts of the proposed development on the surrounding area… are such “that this scheme cannot be granted in its current form”.

The appeal also argued that the proposed hotel causes significant overlooking.

The appeal states: “The proposed development would remove all our client’s privacy and reduce their potential for privacy into the future... Our client has children and he does not want residents of this hotel to be able to look down into his property and watch his children playing.”

Mr Buck also argued that the proposed hotel “would substantially depreciate the value” of the O’Regan property.

Mr Buck stated that the only basis for the hotel scheme to proceed is that the interests of the developer are placed above the established amenities of the O’Regan property.

The appeal also claims that the proposed eight-storey tower element of the hotel extension “is excessive” and “constitutes overdevelopment”.

Mr Buck states that the proposed tower “is substantially taller that any other building in the vicinity”.

DCC go-ahead

Dublin City Council gave the project the go-ahead after its planner found that the proposal “will upgrade one of the most prominent locations in the city”.

The city council planner also concluded that the proposal will “contribute to the animation of the area, will allow for the refurbishment and re-engagement of a historic building with the addition of a striking contemporary tower in an inner city location”.

Director at CBRE John Hughes told the council that while Dublin has a strong “pipeline” of hotels, only 3 per cent is classified as being in the five-star category.

Mr Hughes said there is a limited supply of five-star hotels in Dublin making up just 12 of the 214 hotels in the capital equating to 1,793 bedrooms or a share of 8 per cent.

Hatch Hall is a protected structure and planning consultant for Red Carnation John Spain said the use as a five-star hotel "would ensure that the building is restored and conserved, protecting it into the future with a viable use".

A decision is due on the appeal in August.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times