U2 partnership given leave to challenge decision on Clarence Hotel redevelopment

Dublin City Council refused to extend duration of planning permission for €150m hotel scheme

Plans by Bono and The Edge to revive their parked €150 million revamp of Dublin's Clarence Hotel were stopped in their tracks by Dublin City Council, the High Court has heard.

Eamon Galligan, senior counsel for The Clarence Partnership, which includes developer Paddy McKillen, said the local authority had refused to extend planning permission it granted in 2007 for a new and enlarged hotel.

He told Mr Justice Paul McDermott that the highly ambitious project for the hotel at Wellington Quay and Essex Street had been shelved in 2009 because of economic circumstances beyond the control of the partnership.

Mr Galligan said no development had been started at the time and in March 2013 the partnership had asked Dublin City Council to extend the duration of the existing planning permission which required to be renewed on a five yearly basis.

He said the local authority was obliged to extend the life of the planning permission if it was satisfied there were considerations of a commercial, economic or technical nature beyond the control of the applicant which militated against commencement of work.

Mr Galligan said the council had sought further information to demonstrate that the height of the proposed development, which includes an elliptical, flying saucer-like roof known as a “skycatcher”, was in accordance with the Dublin City Development Plan.

Following the partnership’s response the council had refused the application to extend the permission on the grounds the proposed new eight-storey building exceeded the maximum height permissible at the location under the plan.

Mr Galligan told Judge Mc Dermott that regulations governing residential development curtail height to six storeys and to seven storey for office development. The plan did not curtail the height of a hotel but the council’s planning officer had considered that a hotel was akin to a commercial development.

He said the partnership believed the council had erred in law in interpreting the maximum permissible height for office development as a standard applicable to non-residential development generally and hotel development in particular.

The Clarence Partnership was granted leave to challenge the council’s decision. Judge McDermott said he had been satisfied there were substantial grounds to do so.

The €150 million overhaul of the Temple Bar hotel, including a rooftop bar, restaurant and lounge and 141 guest bedrooms, was designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster.

The scale of the work will be extensive as the redevelopment involves gutting a series of protected buildings, including the Clarence itself, leaving just the facades.