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Concerns over plans for nine-storey budget hotel in Dublin

The 300-year-old house near Ha’penny Bridge is to be demolished for 365-bedroom hotel

The development would involve the demolition of most buildings between the Abbey Street and Liffey Street entrances to Arnotts department store. Photograph: Alan Betson

Dublin City Council has raised concerns over plans for a nine-storey budget hotel near Dublin’s Ha’penny Bridge, which involves the demolition of nine buildings including a 300-year-old house.

Developer Noel Smyth’s Fitzwilliam Real Estate Properties, formerly Arnotts Properties, has sought permission for the 365-bedroom hotel on the corner of Middle Abbey Street and Liffey Street, facing the Luas Red line. The hotel would be operated by German budget hotel group Motel One.

The development would involve the demolition of most buildings between the Abbey Street and Liffey Street entrances to Arnotts department store. None of the buildings earmarked for demolition are protected structures.

However, in a submission to the council the Dublin Civic Trust said number 113 Middle Abbey Street was a former “Dutch Billy” or gable-fronted house, dating from the early-18th century and was one of the oldest buildings in the area.

“This house, one of the last of the original domestic residences of Abbey Street, will be 300 years old next year and predates most protected structures on the street – some by a number of centuries.”

Gone unnoticed

The significance of the house, which is occupied by a hairdresser, had likely gone unnoticed because the sides of the gable had been built up to “Georgianise” it, the trust said.

Number 1 Liffey Street was a “handsome, merchant dwelling house of the Regency period”, and was also deserving of protection, the trust said.

The council said both houses had been referred by the Minister for Arts and Heritage for inclusion on the record of protected structures, subject to further assessment, and that number 114 Abbey Street was a recorded monument, containing the remains of a 16th/17th-century building.

In addition, number 111 was a former Irish Independent printing hall built in 1922. It represented “a vestige of the city centre’s publishing heritage” and was recorded on the national inventory of architectural heritage, the council said.

Full assessment

The developers had not provided “an adequate justification for the demolition” of the buildings, the council said.

It ordered that an archaeological and historical assessment of the site be undertaken and that in relation to 1 Liffey Street Lower and 111 and 113 Middle Abbey Street, “a full conservation assessment” be undertaken.

The council also said the height of the development was “excessive” and would “unduly dominate the streetscape”. It instructed the redeveloper to reduce the height of the hotel by at least two storeys.