Council takes legal action against Dublin pub over refurbishment

Council says work on Opium’s glass roof and smoking area does not have planning permission

Opium closed for a number of months last year for a large refurbishment. Photograph: Google Maps

Opium closed for a number of months last year for a large refurbishment. Photograph: Google Maps

 

Dublin City Council has taken legal proceedings against large city centre pub Opium amid complaints from local residents and businesses following a multimillion euro makeover.

The Mercantile Group establishment, which describes itself as a “pan-Asian restaurant, cocktail bar and nightlife destination” closed in May last year and reopened in January after a revamp estimated to have cost between €2 million and €4 million.

In a recent letter to councillors, the Camden Village Residents’ & Business Association said it had received an “unprecedented” number of noise complaints since the pub installed a rooftop smoking area and opening glass roof on its premises.

Dublin City Council last month refused retention permission on the roof works and said it has now started legal proceedings over alterations that it says were carried out without proper planning permission.

In its letter, the Camden association said “people cannot get a night’s sleep as the crowd noise from these open areas inside this venue can be heard very often until 2.30am or later”.

It accused the Mercantile Group of behaving badly by failing to adhere to an enforcement notice issued by Dublin City Council last October.

Live file

In response to a question from Fianna Fáil councillor Frank Kennedy, council management said “there is a live file on Opium, 26 Wexford Street”.

“A Section 154 Notice was served on 13th October, 2017, requiring the removal of the steel structure and glazed roof and the reinstatement of the curved bitumen covered roof by 15th December, 2017.

“The notice was not complied with and the matter is now the subject of legal proceedings.”

A planning authority may issue a notice under section 154 of the Planning and Development Act if development does not have the required permission, or where terms of permission have not been met.

The council said it refused to grant retention permission because the development gives rise to unacceptable noise levels and creates unacceptable noise levels which negatively affect the “residential environmental quality of the area”.

The council carried out sound monitoring in the bedroom of a property on Camden Row over three days in February.

“On each of these occasions crowd noise and music with a high bass content were clearly audible and at a level that would be considered intrusive,” the Dublin’s environmental health officer said.

“The occupiers report that they are unable to sleep when patrons are in the [pub’s] garden area at night.”

Opium is one of a number of Dublin establishments in the Mercantile hospitality group. Last year it lined up a €20 million investment programme, after its warring shareholder blocs formally ended a bitter legal wrangle.

The Mercantile Group did not respond to a request for comment.