Councillors vote to limit number of Dublin hotels because of ‘erosion of cultural life and space’

City planner warns that move could leave council at risk of legal challenge

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn suggested a motion had been introduced to facilitate the ‘commercial friends’ of some councillors but he later withdrew the comment. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn suggested a motion had been introduced to facilitate the ‘commercial friends’ of some councillors but he later withdrew the comment. Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

 

Dublin city councillors have voted to limit the number of hotels being built in the city to halt the “increasing erosion of cultural life and space”, despite being warned they could face legal action.

Councillors from the Green Party, Social Democrats and Labour earlier this month called for the meeting to be held following the planned closure of the Bernard Shaw pub and venue in Portobello, and the decision by councillors to sell council owned land near the venue to a developer.

Bodytonic, which operates the Bernard Shaw, said it would be closing the pub with a “heavy heart” at the end of October, having “tried really hard over the last few months to renew the lease, stay on longer, or buy the place”.

Green councillor Clare Byrne said while the motion to protect cultural uses was “not about protecting one commercial organisation”, the closure of the Bernard Shaw was symbolic of the loss of cultural space in the city. “Our night-life is now just swanky cocktail bars,” she said.

Labour councillor Dermot Lacey raised the issue of Merrion Square artists who will be banned from their traditional pitches at the railings next summer to accommodate Uefa Euro 2020 events. He said the council management only offered to look at alternative venues after the issue appeared in The Irish Times.

Independent councillor Mannix Flynn suggested the motion had been introduced to facilitate the “commercial friends” of some councillors. However, he later withdrew the comment.

While councillors of all parties spoke in favour of the motion, city planner John O’Hara said limiting hotels under the city development plan would leave the council open to legal action.

“Any ban or curtailment runs the risk of legal challenge,” he said.

Head of planning Richard Shakespeare said it was a management function to initiate a change to the development plan and the council’s management did not intend to do so. The council passed the motion regardless.

The motion included a number of other provisions including that the council would write to the Minister for Justice “seeking policy and legislative changes to protect and promote nightlife in Dublin”.

Demolition

The meeting comes just days after another large-scale hotel was granted permission in the city, which will involve large-scale demolition.

Kiely family company Greybirch has secured permission for an eight-storey 116-bedroom hotel on a block at George’s Quay opposite Liberty Hall and beside Mulligan’s pub on Poolbeg Street.

Buildings on the quays, Poolbeg Street and on Tara Street will be demolished to make way for the development, including the Tara Building, which opened in recent years as a co-working premises with its exterior painted by street artist Maser.