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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 23 September, 2019
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Green light for €40 million hotel at Stephen's Green despite government department objections

The appeals board said that the hotel would not adversely affect the character of the historic buildings nearby.

Loreto Hall is located next to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Loreto Hall is located next to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Image: Google Maps

AN BORD PLEANÁLA has given the go-ahead for a new €40m luxury hotel for Dublin’s St Stephen’s Green in spite of security fears from staff at the adjoining the Dept of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) HQ.

The appeals board has given the go-ahead to Brown Table Solutions Ltd to convert Loreto Hall into an 87-bedroom hotel in spite of appeals lodged by the Department of Foreign Affairs and a Dubliner, Philip O’Reilly, against the decision to grant permission.

The appeals board has responded to concerns by the appellants by ordering the omission of the planned penthouse suite level and, in common with Dublin City Council, has also ordered the omission of one floor from the planned hotel.

In giving the plan the go-ahead, the appeals board has found that the proposal would not adversely affect the character or architectural significance of the historic buildings on site or in the vicinity of the site.

The appeals board also found that the plan would not would not seriously injure the amenities of properties in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience.

The grant of permission for the proposal comes against the background of An Taisce shouting “stop” against the number of hotels planned for the capital.

In response to current plans for an eight-storey hotel north of the River Liffey, An Taisce stated that there is a huge level of new hotels currently permitted or in the planning system for Dublin.

In the An Taisce objection, Kevin Duff argued “it has reached the point of unsustainability in the context of city centre planning”.

However, this is in contrast to the stance being taken by Failte Ireland which stated that there is a major threat to additional tourism in Dublin “because of the acute shortage of hotel bedrooms in the city centre”.

In respect of the Brown Table Solutions plan, the Department stated that the €40m plan represents a gross over-development of the site and pointed out that under the heading of “Security of the Dept of Foreign Affairs” that Iveagh House regularly hosts heads of State, national and foreign dignitaries and political leaders for sensitive meetings and negotiations.

The appeal stated: “The security and privacy of the Iveagh House premises [is] of paramount importance.”

The appeal went on to state: “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 distances, is of great concern to DFAT.”

The Department stated that it did not object in principle to the development of the redevelopment of Loretto Hall but requested the appeals board to refuse planning permission for the current proposal “in order that a more considered development of appropriate scale and form may take place”.

Loreto Hall went on the market last year with a guide price of €5.75m.

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.

Planning consultants for Brown Table Solutions Ltd stated that the plan ensures the longevity of the building and protection of it integrity as a protected structure.

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Gordon Deegan

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