Rohan wins in planning row with Powerscourt Hotel over amphitheatre

An Bord Pleanála rules 214-seater wedding venue requires planning permission

Businessman Ken Rohan has emerged victorious in a planning row with the owners of the five-star Powerscourt Hotel in Co Wicklow over a 214-seater outdoor wedding venue.

This follows An Bord Pleanála finding that the hotel requires planning permission for the €250,000 amphitheatre, built without planning permission at the venue, which overlooks the Sugarloaf mountain.

The amphitheatre site was formerly used as a helipad for hotel guests.

Mr Rohan is the majority shareholder at one of the country’s largest privately-owned property investment firms, Rohan Holdings.


He lives adjacent to Powerscourt at Charleville, Enniskerry, and employed consultants to make a comprehensive submission to An Bord Pleanála, urging it to uphold a ruling by Wicklow County Council that the amphitheatre is not an exempt development and requires planning permission.

Consultants for Mr Rohan from Future Analytics Consulting Ltd told the board that the amphitheatre “would have a significant negative impact on the amenities of surrounding properties”.

They argued the operation of the amphitheatre gives rise to excessive noise along the mutual boundaries and disrupts the visual amenity at the site.

They warned that, as a result, un-social noise from fireworks, wedding-related entertainment and late-night revelling would increase in the area and have an adverse effect on Mr Rohan’s property at Charleville House.

The works were carried out by the hotel's former owner, Tetrarch Capital, in 2017 before they sold the hotel in 2019 to the MHL Collection, a consortium led by US billionaire John Malone, for more than €50 million.


In his assessment, An Bord Pleanála inspector Paul O’Brien stated: “It is clear that this amphitheatre is used for events that are specific to this location and provide for an intensification of use of this area of land.”

He said the intensification of use included the use of sound equipment which is likely to impact on the character of the area.

He said the works carried out by the hotel have resulted in the alteration of the structure and lands, for which no permission was received.

Mr O’Brien found that the works carried out for the amphitheatre were not exempt from planning permission and this has been upheld by the board.

Tom Phillips & Co, consultants for the Powerscourt Hotel, told the board: "The owner carried out the work in good faith and did not consider that the landscaping works carried out on private property require planning permission."

The consultants argued that the works are an exempt development, pointing out that the space had been used for events associated with the hotel prior to the landscaping works.

The submission contended there was no intensification of the use of the hotel as a result of the works.

It is now open to the Powerscourt Hotel to seek planning retention of the amphitheatre.

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan

Gordon Deegan is a contributor to The Irish Times