Councillors urge rejection of former Regency Hotel car park plans

Build-to-rent apartment and other proposals for Bonnington discussed at ‘virtual’ meeting

Roseberry Investments has applied to An Bord Pleanála for a strategic housing development in blocks up to six storeys  at the back of the Bonnington hotel in Whitehall.  Photograph: David Davies/PA

Roseberry Investments has applied to An Bord Pleanála for a strategic housing development in blocks up to six storeys at the back of the Bonnington hotel in Whitehall. Photograph: David Davies/PA

 

Plans for more than 120 build-to-rent apartments on the car park of the former Regency Hotel, now the Bonnington, in Dublin are “unsustainable” and should be rejected, city councillors have said.

Roseberry Investments has applied to An Bord Pleanála for a strategic housing development of 48 one-bed and 78 two-bed apartments in blocks up to six storeys tall on the site of the current car park at the back of the hotel in Whitehall.

Separately the hotel owners have already applied to build an additional seven-storey “room only” hotel at the front of the Bonnington, on lands currently occupied by a convenience store.

The Regency hotel made headlines in February 2016 when Kinahan crime gang associate David Byrne was shot dead by gunmen from the rival Hutch gang. The hotel was renamed the Bonnington in October 2017.

City councillors were on Friday given a presentation on the build-to-rent plans by two council officials. The councillors were not present in City Hall, due to coronavirus restrictions, but sent questions by text and email, before and during the meeting, which were read out and answered in a live webcast.

Parking and traffic

Councillors raised concerns about the amount of development on the site, particularly with applications to develop land at both the front and back of the existing hotel, the height of the apartment blocks, the transient nature of build-to-rent schemes, and the potential parking and traffic problems.

Green Party councillor Lawrence Hemmings said the duration of tenancies, which the developer had said would be “managed on a yearly or half-yearly basis” would hamper the ability to build a sustainable community. “Are families intended for this build-to-rent accommodation?” he asked.

Fine Gael councillor Declan Flanagan said the application was “not in keeping with surrounding area in terms of its excessive height and density”.

Labour’s Alison Gilliland said there were already severe traffic pressures in the area, and local residents already had to endure “chaotic parking” which would only be worsened if the existing hotel car park was built upon.

Green councillor Donna Cooney said the council needed to make it clear to the board “that we don’t favour short-term build-to-rent model as sustainable development”.

‘Not fit for purpose’

Fianna Fáil’s Racheal Batten said both developments should be assessed together.

Most councillors agreed that a submission should be made to the board calling for the refusal of the application as it was unsustainable and “not fit for purpose”. Fine Gael councillor Naoise Ó Muirí said he did not support “outright rejection” of the proposal.

Council officials must present a report to the board by April 20th outlining the councillors’ and planners’ views.

The council is still assessing the application made last October for the room-only hotel at the front of the Bonnington. However, council planners have already stated they have “significant concerns” about the proposal, particularly the relationship between the new budget hotel and the existing hotel behind it.

The Bonnington’s owners intend to retain the old hotel, which was built in the early 19th century but heavily altered over the course of the 20th century, and build the new hotel in front of it. The new hotel would not include any restaurants, bars or leisure facilities.