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€40 million luxury hotel gets green light on site of iconic Stephen's Green building

The new hotel is to be built on the site of a former ‘young ladies’ hostel.

loreto Loreto Hall, St Stephen's Green Source: Google Maps

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL has given the go-ahead for a €40 million plan to convert Loreto Hall, a former ‘young ladies’ hostel on St Stephen’s Green, into a luxury hotel.

The local authority has given Brown Table Solutions Ltd the go-ahead for the 87-bedroom hotel with restaurant and spa at 77 St Stephen’s Green, which will involve building an eight-storey block to the rear.

The development has received the green light in spite of objections from the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA), Office of Public Works (OPW) and the Irish Georgian Society.

The Ministerial offices of the DFA are next door at Iveagh House and, in its objection, Director of the Department’s Property Management Unit Kevin Colgan told the council that “the privacy and security of Iveagh House is of paramount importance”.

He pointed out that Iveagh House regularly hosts Heads of State, national and foreign dignitaries, political leaders and high-ranking diplomats for sensitive meetings and negotiations.

He said: “The proposal to construct a bank of hotel rooms with windows facing directly into the Iveagh House offices and ballroom (its main meeting room) with inadequate separation distance, is of great concern to the DFA.”

Colgan stated that the Department is not opposed in principle to the redevelopment of Loreto Hall, but stated that the current plan “constitutes a gross over-development of the application site”.

Objection

In its objection, the Irish Georgian Society (IGS) stated that the proposed design is “jarring, visually obtrusive and grossly out of character with the uniform, ordered and fine grain facade of No 77 St Stephen’s Green”.

The OPW stated that the proposal will “have implications in terms of security and privacy and hence on the successful operation of a piece of vital State infrastructure”.

Loreto Hall went on the market last year with a guide price of €5.75 million. In 1911, it was bought by the Loreto Sisters to use as a hostel for young women from outside Dublin attending the National University at nearby Earlsfort Terrace and the Hall – built in 1765 – remained in use for “country girls” going to colleges in the city until the 1990s.

The planner’s report that recommended that the proposal receive the go-ahead reveals that the Council’s conservation officer recommended that planning permission be refused for in January.

The conservation officer’s report stated that the proposals submitted do not appear to recognise the significance of the building, its setting and streetscape, adding that the recommendation of refusal “does not infer that the building requires preservation under a mort cloth”.

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Serious concerns

The planner in the case noted the conservation officer’s report but ruled that the firm should be given an opportunity to address the serious concerns by lodging revised plans.

In response, Brown Table Solutions reduced the penthouse roof-extension to one floor only and reduced the original nine-storey block to the rear by one floor or three metres resulting in the loss of eight bedrooms from the original 95.

The planner in the case concluded that the proposal is unlikely to have an acceptable negative impact on the protected structure “and with appropriate conservation and repair will ensure a viable future use for the historic building”.

The planner stated: “The comprehensive redevelopment of the rear of the site is considered acceptable having regard to both the existing pattern and density of development in the immediate vicinity.”

To address the privacy concerns of the DFA, windows facing adjacent properties will incorporate frosted glass.

Objectors have the option of appealing the Council decision to An Bord Pleanála.

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Gordon Deegan

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