Saturday 23 August 2008

35-storey hotel planned in docklands rejected

PLANNING PERMISSION has been refused for a proposed €300 million 35-storey hotel in Dublin's docklands, the project's backers said yesterday.

The planning application for the 440-bedroom hotel was lodged last December and described by backers Treasury Holdings and CIÉ as an integral part of the proposed national conference centre in Spencer Dock.

The application was opposed by the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA), the Railway Procurement Agency and An Taisce, among others.

Dublin City Council refused to confirm yesterday that a decision had been made on the project.However, a spokeswoman for the developer said notification of a refusal of planning permission had been received.

Treasury Holdings Ireland managing director John Bruder said the decision was "extremely disappointing" as the project was of huge importance to Ireland and north Dublin. "It is particularly disappointing, coming at a time when Ireland needs projects that will help recover growth in the economy, especially in the construction sector," he said.

The hotel, which was to be operated by the Ritz Carlton group, was designed by Shay Cleary and Associates. It was envisaged that 300 people would have been employed in construction, with an additional 600 jobs to be created when the hotel opened.

Accommodation was to include 178 standard bedrooms, 279 hotel suites and 10 large-scale duplex suites on floors 33 and 34. The 35th floor was for a function room, bar/lounge, meeting rooms, garden and terrace. Treasury Holdings described the proposal as a "high-quality architectural landmark tower in the docklands".

The national conference centre, which, Treasury says, has been designed to be a new "world-class convention facility", is scheduled to open in the second half of 2010.

According to a KPMG economic impact report commissioned by Treasury in support of the hotel, the convention delegate market is worth €40 billion per annum internationally.

Ireland currently has a share of less than 1 per cent of this market due, according to the report, to a lack of facilities. The report also pointed to Birmingham, where the conference centre is joined by a bridge to a 329-bed, four-star Hyatt Regency hotel. It also pointed to similar examples in Cape Town and Barcelona.

The DDDA, which commissioned senior counsel's opinion on the proposed hotel, concluded that the 35-storey tower would be "untenable".

The docklands authority has previously said it was in favour of a hotel to accompany the national conference centre, but it said this should rise to just 13 floors with a gross floor area of less than 20,000 square metres - about one-third the size of the Treasury Holdings project.

The Railway Procurement Agency said in its objection that it was worried about the construction impact on the Luas extension to the docklands. An Taisce said the project would have an adverse visual impact on the city's Georgian streetscape and would be in conflict with the high buildings strategy.

The Irish Times
Irish Times

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