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Council refuses planning permission for hotel on Capel Street, says there are 'too many' hotels in Dublin

It is believed to be the first time council planners have cited concerns about the growing number of hotels as a reason to refuse planning permission.

PLANNING PERMISSION FOR a new hotel in Dublin city centre has been refused by Dublin City Council over concerns about the “overconcentration” of hotels in the area.

The council said plans for a 142-bedroom hotel at the corner of Capel Street and Strand Street Little would “exacerbate” a situation where a large number of new hotels had been approved in the same neighbourhood in recent years with several others in the pipeline.

It is believed to be the first time that council planners have cited concerns about the growing number of hotel developments in parts of the city as a reason to refuse planning permission for a new hotel project.

It follows a surge in applications for planning permission to develop new hotels and extend existing ones in Dublin in recent years in response to a shortage of visitor accommodation for record numbers of international and domestic tourists to the city.

The council said the plans for the nine-storey hotel by Ringline Investments would undermine the vision of the Dublin City Development Plan for a dynamic mix of uses within the city centre and “exacerbate the existing saturation of hotel rooms within the immediate vicinity”.

Council planners noted that eight other applications to build hotels and aparthotels providing a total of 1,985 bedrooms had been granted planning permission within 350 metres of Ringline’s site since 2017.

Another two hotel projects which would provide an additional 163 bedrooms are also currently in the planning process. They include plans for a 98-bedroom hotel by Northern Ireland hotel group Beannchor on the site of the former Boland’s factory off Capel Street.

The council contended that there is now an overconcentration of hotels in the area “which could fundamentally undermine the mixed-use ethos and vision for this portion of the city centre” as well as impact on efforts to create a sense of community.

Residential developments

While more than 2,150 extra bedrooms could be added in that part of the city in the space of a few years, the council said the provision of new housing in the same area had not kept pace with hotel development.

It also refused Ringline’s application on grounds that it would result in the loss of existing and potential residential development, as well as its excessive height.

The council has refused planning permission for a number of hotel projects in the capital in recent years but the grounds for refusal have mostly related to height, inappropriate design and the loss of residential units.

In 2019, councillors passed a motion seeking a change to the city development plan to limit the number of hotels in Dublin due to the housing shortage in the capital.

However, the measure was resisted by council management who said limiting hotels would leave the council open to legal action.

A major policy of the council under the existing development plan is to promote tourism in Dublin through supporting the provision of “a necessary, significant increase” in facilities like hotels and aparthotels.

Twelve months ago, it was estimated that 100 new hotel or aparthotel projects were either under construction in the capital or in the planning process with a further 49 extensions of existing ones which would provide an additional 15,000 rooms to the existing stock of 18,000 rooms provided by 250 hotels already in operation.

However, a subsequent report by commercial real estate agency, Savills, last May revised its forecast for the provision of new hotel bedrooms in Dublin up to the end of 2022 downwards by 32% to 4,057 from 5,926 because of the impact of Covid-19.

Ringline, which is one-third owned by a company linked to Adrian Rezmerita, the owner of Polonez, a chain of supermarkets specialising in Polish and eastern European food, said its proposed hotel was due to be operated by the Accor hotel chain under its new Tribe brand.

The company claimed there was still a need for new hotel developments on the northside of Dublin notwithstanding the impact of Covid-19.

While Ringline acknowledged that a number of other hotels had already been approved for the same area in recent years, it argued the figures were coming “from a relatively low base”.

The future of the development will rest with An Bord Pleanála as the company has lodged an appeal in a bid to reverse the council’s decision.

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Seán McCárthaigh
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