Wetherspoon to open in former Dublin homeless hostel

Dublin City Council approved hotel and bar complex on Camden Street site

 

British pub chain JD Wetherspoon has been granted permission by Dublin City Council to open a hotel and bar complex in a former homeless hostel on Camden Street.

The council has, however, raised concerns about the company’s plans for another branch on Lower Abbey Street, which would involve the amalgamation two historic buildings, one of which is a protected structure.

Wetherspoon bought Camden Hall, the State’s largest homeless hostel, two years ago. It planned a €4 million conversion of the building, along with several adjoining mid-19th century houses, into a 98-room hotel with a bar and restaurant.

The company, which operates more than 900 pubs in Britain and Northern Ireland as well as five in Ireland, sought permission for the Camden Street development 10 months ago, but the process stalled after the council raised concerns over the concentration of pubs in the area.

The council last March asked the company to revisit its proposals and provide more detail on its plans for changes to the buildings, all of which are on the Record of Protected Structures, as well as a justification for the amount of the site which would be given over to pub and restaurant use.

The council has now granted permission for the scheme, which will be Wetherspoon’s first hotel venture in Ireland, subject to 20 conditions including a ban on amplified music which could be heard from the street, a ban on the use of projecting signs, and a number of changes to the internal amalgamation of the old houses.

‘Reservations’

Meanwhile, plans for the company’s first Dublin city centre pub are unlikely to be determined this year after the council said it had “reservations” about the changes Wetherspoon wants to make to buildings dating from the 1830s.

The company bought the former Permanent TSB bank, beside the National Lottery building on Lower Abbey Street, in early 2015 and acquired the neighbouring former Baptist Chapel building later that year.

The bank and the chapel are two of the few buildings on Lower Abbey Street which predate the 20th century.

Built as a branch of the Meath Street Savings Bank in 1839, the bank was in use until 1999, before being taken over by Age Action Ireland and is a protected structure. The neighbouring Baptist Chapel, which was in use as a place of worship until 2006, was also built in the 1830s, but is not listed on the city’s Record of Protected Structures.

The council is seeking revised plans from the company in relation to the repair and conservation of both historic buildings, as well as proposed alterations and new construction.

The council is also seeking a reduction in the number of toilets within the former chapel interior to “retain the classical proportions and understanding of its interior”.

Wetherspoon opened its first Irish pub The Three Tun Tavern in Blackrock in July 2014 and has since taken over The Forty Foot in Dún Laoghaire; The Great Wood in Blanchardstown; The Old Borough in Swords; and the Linen Weaver in Cork city.