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The Mont Hotel in April 2023 Google Street View
The Mont Hotel

Owners of Dublin hotel in planning row with council over building being painted grey

The Mont Hotel, located on a corner of Merrion Square, is a protected structure.

THE OWNERS OF a well-known Dublin hotel are involved in a planning row with the Dublin City Council over a requirement to seek planning permission to paint the outside of the building a dark grey.

Persian Properties, which operates the Mont Hotel located on a corner of Merrion Square, is facing enforcement proceedings by the council for painting the façade of the building in a “graphite grey” without authorisation.

The hotel, which was previously known as the Mont Clare Hotel, is a protected structure.

Persian Properties, which is owned by accountant Noel O’Callaghan, is part of the O’Callaghan Collection which operates hotels in Ireland and Gibraltar including The Alex, The Green and the Davenport in Dublin.

Council planners claim the painting of the other properties in pale pastel colours in the area, which is located in the city’s historic Georgian core, is well established.

They said the result is one of “clear legibility of architectural element and consistent presentation of historic architectural character”.

The council noted that the owners of other protected structures in the area painted in “strong colours” had obtained planning permission for their colour scheme.

It also pointed out that the hotel had failed to respond to the council’s request to provide an architectural conservation rationale for the selected grey colour as well as a report on its material impact on the architectural character and setting of the building.

The council said photos of the hotel before and after the re-painting highlighted the significant change that it had on the appearance and character of the building and adjoining properties.

It said the use of the grey colour was detrimental to its external appearance which was magnified by the scale of the building on a prominent street corner.

The council said it made the hotel’s appearance “completely at odds” with the character of neighbouring buildings.

An Bord Pleanála has also dismissed an appeal by the hotel against the council’s decision that the painting of the building was a development that required planning permission.

The board said it was satisfied in the circumstances that it should not consider the referral further as the same issue had arisen four years ago.

It explained that Dublin City Council has previously ruled in October 2019 that the painting of the façade of the hotel was a development that was not exempted from needing planning permission.

The board noted that the council’s decision had not been appealed or challenged by way of judicial review, while there had been “no change in factual or planning circumstances” over the intervening period.

Planning files show enforcement proceedings against the hotel for painting the building without planning permission, which were initiated in February 2022, remain open.

However, the hotel claims the building has been routinely painted since 1964 and that such painting should be regarded as “routine maintenance”.

In its appeal to An Bord Pleanála, consultants for Persian Properties claimed very few painted buildings were defined by the colour with which they were painted.

Instead, they argued the hotel should be defined by a number of factors including its history, overall scale, external finish and building fabric.

“We believe the above qualities define the building’s character and that while a colour change will alter the appearance, it will not significantly affect the character,” they added.

The hotel claimed Georgian doorways in Merrion Square were painted in a variety of colours which while altering their appearance had no effect on their character.

It said it did not believe the previous magnolia or off-white colour used to paint the hotel had “any more merit” than its current grey colour.

Seán McCárthaigh