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Wetherspoons' proposal for a sound barrier made of compressed basalt
keavan's port hotel

Residents object to proposed sound barrier at Portobello Wetherspoons 'taller than Berlin Wall'

The UK pub giant is proposing the sound barrier to allow it to re-open its beer garden after residents made noise complaints.

A DUBLIN 8 resident has hit out at JD Wetherspoon PLC’s plans to erect a 43 ft high sound barrier for its Keavan’s Port Hotel’s outdoor pub courtyard claiming that what is planned “is taller than the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China”.

The UK pub giant is proposing the sound barrier to allow it re-open its beer garden at its so-called ‘superpub’ at its 89 bedroom Keavan’s Port Hotel on Camden Street.

In April 2022, JD Wetherspoon closed down the beer garden temporarily in response to locals’ noise complaints.

Now, in response to the new sound barrier application lodged with Dublin City Council, local resident Suzanne Willoughby has stated that what is planned “is ugly, bulky, overbearing and visually obtrusive”.

Willoughby from nearby Grantham Place, has told the Council “it makes me angry to think that anyone thinks that building a wall which is taller than the Berlin Wall or the Great Wall of China is an appropriate solution to squeezing more punters into the pub”.

BEER The current beer garden JD Wetherspoon JD Wetherspoon

The 43 ft height of the sound barrier compares to the 13 ft high Berlin Wall and the average height of the Great Wall of China at 25.6ft but can reach to 46 ft high in places.

In her objection, Willoughby states that “there is no good or pressing reason why this application should be approved. It does nothing to improve our city or the neighbourhood”.

In one of six objections lodged against the planned sound barrier, Willoughby further contends that if allowed “a proposal of this size, scale and type is extremely damaging to our built heritage”.

She said: “I am not aware of any precedent for a wall of this size and type in Ireland, let alone within the curtilage of a Protected Structure. If allowed, the proposal disrupts the setting of this important Georgian Terrace and has a negative impact upon the neighbouring Protected Structures.”

In their objection, James Wickham and Lorelei Harris have told the council it is disputable if the proposed screen will reduce the noise from the inner courtyard of Keavan’s Port pub.

BEER2 Wetherspoons' proposal for a Rockpanel sound barrier made of compressed basalt JD Wetherspoon JD Wetherspoon

They state: “What is indisputable is that this will create a large new outdoor drinking space in our neighbourhood with all the attendant social issues: noise, crowding, anti-social behaviour and waste management challenges.”

They add: “In addition to this, we, the residents of this area are deeply concerned by the changing nature of our community from a quiet peaceful co-location of residential, commercial and hospitality businesses into an uncontrolled area of late night drinking, stag parties and revelry of a sort that is antithetical to the pursuit of family life.”

Ghandi Mallak operates the Damascus Gate Restaurant on Camden Street and has told the Council that he has has serious concerns about the proposed development.

Mallak stated that he operates an external terrace at his restaurant and has never received noise complaints.

BEER3 An image of what the proposed sound barrier would like look when viewed from a residential street behind the pub JD Wetherspoon JD Wetherspoon

He said that “if someone is getting rowdy and noisy we will ask them to stop. I would not propose to build a huge ugly wall because I do not want or are unwilling or unable to manage my customers? This is a very bad solution”.

Mallak stated that he has operated on Camden Street for many years but “was shocked when Wetherspoons opened at the increased levels of anti-social behaviours including damage to my property, people urinating, littering etc”.

He said: “To some degree these have been a problem in the past as you would expect in an urban location – however the increase was unprecedented when Wetherspoons opened.”

Richard Duggan from Synge Street, behind the pub, has told the council that “the sound emissions when the beer gardens were open previously caused innumerable sleepless nights in my house and several of my neighbours. Its closure has reversed this problem”.

A submission by JD Wetherspoons’s consultants, Brock McClure has stated that the closure of the courtyard demonstrates JD Wetherspoon’s commitment to being a good neighbour and working with residents to resolve issues whenever they may arise.

In a bid to overcome the issue, the hospitality firm employed acoustic experts, Enfonic which has recommended the erection of the 13.2 metre (43.3ft) high and 8.1m (26.5ft) wide sound barrier that will be completed with rockpanel wood panelling.

Brock McClure state that the Enfonic assessment found that “the height of a suitable barrier is critical to its performance and a variety of configurations were considered. It was concluded that a barrier with a height of between 13 metres and 14 metres would provide the required performance”.

In their 26 page planning report, Brock McClure state that “the barrier has been developed to protect all persons who will live, work or engage in other activities in the immediate vicinity of the courtyard from noise disturbance from the outside seating area”.

The report states that particular emphasis has been paid to nearby residential properties surrounding the premises.

A decision is due on the application in July.

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