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Dublin: 8 °C Thursday 4 June, 2020
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'If this goes ahead, we'll go out of business': Planning appeal for protected structures in Dublin 7

A company wants to convert the sites on Blessington Street into an aparthotel, but locals aren’t keen on the idea.

LOCALS IN DUBLIN 7 are objecting to proposals to convert two protected structures into a 28-room aparthotel.

Plans were submitted late last year for works on the building for hotel-style apartments just a few metres away from the Blessington Street Basin in Phibsborough.

The architects behind the project say the building would be converted “in accordance with conservation principles”, but local residents and businesses have objected, calling the project “unsustainable”.

After initially having its proposal rejected by Dublin City Council, the company seeking to build the hotel has now appealed the case to An Bord Pleanála.

The plans

blessington basin The building, on the left, is proposed to be turned into an aparthotel Source: Google Maps

The application proposes to change the use of the protected structure at 42 and 43 Blessington Street.

Under the official definition, a protected structure is one considered by a planning authority to have “architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, social, scientific or technical importance”.

The submission was made by Deck Building Services DAC, a Naas-based company that was set up in March of last year.

The cover letter sent to Dublin City Council by John Fleming architects said that the development “will consist of the change of use of the protected structure, from existing commercial use, to use as an aparthotel”.

It would see the demolition of an existing single storey light industrial building to the rear of the site and a construction of a 556 sq m two and three storey extensions with a lift.

In all, there will be 28 aparthotel rooms – 10 in the existing protected structure and 18 in the newly built extensions.

The plans also include the “reinstatement and renovation” of existing features and that all works would be carried out “in accordance with conservation principles”.

Objections

Many of the objections from locals centred on the part of the plan that would have seen frontage of the building on the adjoining Blessington Lane.

This road is far narrower than Blessington Street.

blessington lane Source: Google Maps

One local business owner said: “Blessington Lane is a cul de sac with the only exit-entry on to Mountjoy Street. There are usually residents’ cars parked all along the lane which leaves a very small space for entry and exit.”

Another said: “I run a business on Blessington Lane, right facing where the above building is to be demolished and 28 apartments built.

If this building goes ahead it will put me and and two other garages that are in the lane out of business for a long time… If these plans go ahead there is no way I’ll be able to keep up payments as there would be too much disruption in the lane with all the machinery outside.

Two local residents said that, during construction, “no workers parking, would be tolerable day or night, for vehicles, machinery or materials”.

Those residents also pointed to a number of other hostels in the area and said that the place is already “hostel central”.

“It leaves anti-social behaviour in the area at an all-time high,” they said. “The basin park is virtually a no-go area during good weather. We have break-ins and knife attacks.”

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Another said that the development “will not contribute to the community”.

A residents’ association also objected, saying that the proposal for lowering of ground and first floor levels of the original buildings “is incompatible with maintaining the status of these Georgian houses as protected structures”.

Rejected

Dublin City Council rejected the proposals last month for two key reasons.

The first was that it described the plans for individual rooms to be “minimal in size”.

Containing kitchens and bathrooms but no seating or dining space would result in “an over-intensive use in the two protected structures and a poor standard of amenity to occupants”.

“The proposed works to facilitate aparthotel use would also have an adverse impact on the character of the protected structures on the site,” the council said.

Secondly, it said that the “proposed new two-storey and three-storey extension occupying the majority of the rear site would seriously compromise and adversely affect the architectural significance and setting of the protected structures and adjoining terrace”.

In the conservation officer’s report, it is pointed out that the significance of Blessington Street is that “it is in an integral part/residential street of the Gardiner Estate master plan for the North Georgian Core which still survives, planned as an extension to the great public space formerly known as Gardiner’s Mall and terminated by Blessington Street Basin”.

The officer said the development would “seriously compromise and adversely affect the architectural significance and setting of the protected structures and adjoining terrace”.

The decision has now been appealed to An Bord Pleanála, with a decision due to be made by late May/early June.

Read: Objection lodged against massive Cork housing plan

Read: Dozens of developers are fighting to keep their lands off the vacant sites list

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Sean Murray

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