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The Rock of Cashel in Tipperary Alamy Stock Photo

Decision on hotel near Rock of Cashel site gets put on hold as council seeks more information

The plans have been heavily criticised by heritage experts who fear the site will be “destroyed” if the plan goes ahead.

A DECISION ON whether a developer can move forward with controversial plans to build a hotel near the historic Rock of Cashel has been put on hold. 

Tipperary County Council, which was due to issue its determination this week, has instead sought further information on the plans from a company that operates the area’s five-star Cashel Palace Hotel.

It came in for heavy criticism from archaeologists due to fears the development would “destroy” the overall site and “fundamentally undermine” its bid for coveted UNESCO World Heritage status. 

The council has confirmed in its latest planning update that there is no date set for a decision. Any determination can be appealed to An Bord Pleanála. 

The development is proposed for land linking a number of fields leading towards the famous fortification.

It would see the construction of 28 hotel rooms in two blocks, each of one and a half storeys, landscaping and all ancillary development works and would provide additional accommodation to support the existing 42-bedroom Cashel Palace hotel.

The project is proposed for land which archaeologists consider to be part of the original royal complex when it was used as a seat for the old kings of Munster.

A similar development was withdrawn last year following a number of objections. 

The latest plan saw the local authority receive 64 submissions, many of which were objecting to the development.

One of the final documents filed came from the Department of Housing, Local Govt and Heritage which strongly voiced its opposition to the development in its report on the project.

While acknowledging the “high quality” of the developer’s work to date in Cashel, it has contended that the plans are “inappropriate” for the site.

Included among its reasons are that it may set a precedent “at this location in terms of cumulative development within the historic town resulting in gradual erosion of the setting of The Rock and the Cashel Palace”.

Included in the developer’s application is a 93-page report by an archaeologist who listed mitigation works that could take place to limit the impact any construction would have on the site.  

Heritage consultants Consarc, who are also working on behalf of the developer, said a number of meetings took place with stakeholders to try address concerns around the plans. 

In its report, it said the project is part of a masterplan for the local area and that the owner’s current work to date has been “sensitive” to the locality, with a number of bedrooms reduced in size. 

“However, to make the hotel financially viable, and support continued investment in the maintenance and conservation of protected structures on site, additional bedrooms are required.”

This makes the extra bedrooms provided in the plans “essentially” for the hotel’s continued success, it added.

“The owner is also fully committed to Cashel and developing the tourism potential of the town. This will provide a very positive addition to the tourist offering in the town.”

Speaking to The Journal last month, Dr Patrick Gleeson, from the archaeological department at Queen’s University in Belfast, claimed any works as proposed would have a negative impact on any archaeological features that survive within the area of the proposed development, and be detrimental to the landscape setting and integrity of the overall complex.

“There is strong evidence that the fields proposed for development form part of that complex, and that they preserve precious archaeological remains related to that royal complex specifically,” he said at the time.

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