Hotels may go to make way for 112 apartments

 

Wexford County Council's planners are considering a controversial scheme to replace two hotels in the seaside resort of Courtown with a mainly five-storey block of 112 apartments.

The Bayview Hotel, which is prominently located on the harbour front, and the adjoining Ounavarra Hotel - both of which are three storeys high - would be demolished to make way for the proposed development.

Developers John Wall and Joseph Germaine, Baltinglass, Co Wicklow, propose to install retail units, a fitness centre, creche, bar, restaurant and function rooms on the ground floor of the apartment block.

Carlow-based architect Dermot Geoghegan, who designed the scheme, told a public meeting in Courtown earlier this month that the project was a "well-considered development", according to the Gorey Guardian.

He emphasised that it would use high-quality materials comparable to some of Dublin's more recent apartment buildings and provide "comfortable living spaces", many of them with generous balconies facing the sea.

Cllr Lorcan Allen (FF), a former TD, said Courtown had already lost four hotels and was now turning into an apartment village. "It's alien to anything I know about," he said. "Where are people going to stay if they have no hotel?"

Mr Geoghegan said studies had shown that a hotel on the site would not be financially viable. He also acknowledged that many residents of the apartments would probably be Dublin commuters, rather than holidaymakers.

In his view, the resort was "significantly under-developed". Schemes such as what his clients were proposing and the five-storey Beacon development, which already has planning permission, would help to make it a busier place.

Mr Geoghegan said Courtown, which witnessed an explosion of holiday homes under the seaside resorts tax incentive scheme, needed a local area plan with improvements to the harbour funded by development levies.

Some of those who attended the meeting objected to the sheer size of what was being proposed.

"The scale of it is going to affect the little fishing village we have here," said one local resident. "We don't need high-rise Ballymun flats."

Mr Geoghegan described this comparison as unfair, saying the scheme he had designed was more like Ballsbridge than Ballymun.

The striking contemporary design would have a "huge impact" on the centre of Courtown, he conceded.

Some residents complained that the proposed apartment block did not reflect the aesthetics of the village and would so change its character that "people won't want to come here". Others however saw it as a sign of "progress".