Dublin planning chiefs tells councillors to refuse plans for city centre Hilton

 

DUBLIN Corporation's chief planning officer has told councillors they should refuse permission for the proposed new Hilton Hotel. He said it would mean the "unnecessary demolition" of listed buildings.

In a lengthy report which is to be voted on tonight, Mr Pat McDonnell said the bulk of the hotel - proposed for the island site between College Street, Fleet Street and Westmoreland Street - would have a "seriously disruptive" effect on a major conservation area.

The Heritage Council has also come out against the scheme, citing the "intrusiveness" of its roofline, which would be significantly higher than the existing buildings.

Treasury Holdings, the developers, are seeking permission for a 173 bedroom Hilton hotel, with bars, restaurants and conference facilities.

The Irish Georgian Society said the need to raise a double attic storey over the existing buildings could be obviated if AIB would relocate its offices - which would occupy a whole floor of the development - thereby releasing more space at the lower levels.

Although vocal in its condemnation of the proposed hotel, which it described as "one of the most destructive schemes ever put before Dublin Corporation", the city's branch of An Taisce did not make a submission for tonight's decision.

It said future generations would surely deride us for allowing such architectural carnage" as a "fawning, post colonial ritual sacrifice to the international market", on a par with the Phoenix Park Racecourse decision or the demolition of the Hibernian and the Metropole.

It accused The Irish Times of ignoring the adverse impact the Hilton would have on the light rail project and the level of public opposition to the hotel. It said 1,000 people had signed a petition against the development last Saturday.

Some 27 submissions were made about the plan. Of these 20 were in favour and seven against, mainly because of the fate of listed buildings and the hotel's "enormous height", as the Dublin Civic Group said.

Those in favour include Dublin Tourism, Dublin Chamber of Commerce, the Irish Taxi Drivers' Federation, Roly's Bistro in Ballsbridge, the Abrakebabra fast food chain, Cooke's Cafe, Heneghan public relations consultants, Finnegan Menton auctioneers, A+D Wejchert architects and the Queens pub in Dalkey.

The City Council must make its decision subject to a number of conditions.

Three quarters of the council's 52 members must vote in favour if the scheme is to win approval although an appeal to An Bord Pleanala is expected anyway.

The developers have described tonight's decision as a "D day for Dublin".

They have warned that, if permission is not forthcoming, they will go ahead with plans to build 100,000 square feet of offices on the site, which have already been approved.