TRINITY COLLEGE Dublin has sought planning permission to convert the ground floor and basement of the former AIB bank in Foster Place, off College Green, into one of the city’s largest pubs – with 1,341sq m (14,434sq ft) of licensed space.
The planning application, lodged on behalf of “The Provost, Fellows and Scholars of the University of Dublin, Trinity College”, envisages turning the double-height Victorian banking hall into a “restaurant and public house” extending back to Anglesea Street.
Permission is also being sought for a shop on the Foster Place frontage, change of use from banking to education for the upper floors, and the removal of a 19th-century bank vault and all 20th-century alterations to the building, which is a protected structure.
It is understood that the proposed pub would not be run by Trinity but leased to a publican or restaurateur in the event that permission were granted. The upper floors of the building would be converted to office space for university staff.
The scheme is being opposed by Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT), a subsidiary of Dublin City Council with a remit to manage the area as Dublin’s “cultural quarter”. It claims the creation of a “super-pub” on Foster Place would create a “drinking gateway” to Temple Bar.
“Temple Bar Cultural Trust would have serious concerns about this, as there are already three large pubs spilling out onto Anglesea Street in the immediate vicinity,” it says. “Yet another licensed premises would further intensify this already critical mass of drinking establishments.”
Its submission, drafted by Seán Harrington Architects, says there has been general agreement for the past 10 years that the large number, size and type of licensed premises in the Temple Bar area has been “problematic” and, for this reason, more pubs are effectively banned.
Urging city planners to refuse permission, the submission notes that the council’s own policy in its development plan is “to avoid an over-concentration of large pubs in any particular area and to encourage the provision in the city centre of a mix of entertainment venues”.
Concluding, the TBCT submission says its view of the Trinity College plan was that it would be “contrary to the aims and objectives of the Dublin City Council Development Plan 2005-2011 as set out above, and we would request that the application is refused permission”.
A spokesman for the college, which bought the AIB building in 2001, could not be contacted yesterday.
A decision on the application is due by August 26th.