Tuesday, 18 December 2007

Bono meets match with searing attack on 'brazen' hotel plan

BONO is not a man known to be short of words but he may have met his match in an opponent to his hotel expansion plans.

The U2 frontman and his bandmate, The Edge, who are partners in the Clarence Hotel in Dublin city centre, have been accused of "brazenness", "pique" and "anachronistic insensitivity" in their plan to demolish all but the famous facade of the protected building and create an enlarged premises behind.

Their critic is environmentalist Michael Smith, former chairman of heritage group An Taisce, who has lodged a formal objection with An Bord Pleanála urging rejection of the proposal, which was approved by Dublin City Council last month.

In a searing 22-page attack on the rock stars, Mr Smith says the proposed development is too big, out of character with the area, damaging to neighbouring buildings and destructive to the Liffey riverscape.

"The proposal is contextually illiterate, showing no awareness of the importance, subtlety or uniqueness of Dublin's quays. It provides for a parodying ragbag Leviathan of all the three forms, oversailed by a greedy cybership.

"The effect is to create a silly setpiece on the scale of the civic offices but comprising a mismatch of eviscerated typologies under a single roofscape which is somewhat redolent of the civic offices."

Mr Smith accuses Bono and The Edge of bastardising the original building when they took it over in the 1990s and mocks the reported losses the venture has racked up.

"The fact that the current owners are not up to running a hotel does not give them a right to demolish and start again. The owners clearly still have not found what they are looking for. Without presuming too much, I venture it is not a hotel," he writes.

Objections have also been lodged by An Taisce and a neighbouring firm of solicitors. A decision is due from An Bord Pleanála by April 22 next year.

Caroline O'Doherty
Irish Examiner


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