An Bord Pleanála has granted permission for a new four-storey over-basement hotel for Dublin’s Temple Bar.
The board gave the go-ahead to Tom Doone for the boutique hotel and ground-floor restaurant – but only after dismissing the recommendation of its own inspector to refuse planning permission.
It is the third time Mr Doone, the owner of the adjoining Merchant’s Arch pub, has sought to develop the site which is located in a corner of Temple Bar Square.
An Bord Pleanála has twice upheld appeals against plans to develop the hotel on the site in recent years.
The permission for the nine-bedroom hotel scheme at 1-4 Merchants Arch upholds an approval by Dublin City Council for the proposal earlier this year.
That decision was appealed by Temple Bar Residents and in the residents’ appeal, local resident and former Irish Times environment editor, Frank McDonald, expressed fears the restaurant will become yet another pub for Temple Bar.
Mr McDonald claimed Temple Bar “is saturated with restaurants and no credible planning argument can be made for yet another one, especially when it would displace small traders who add vibrancy to Merchant’s Arch”.
Mr McDonald argued Dublin’s “Cultural Quarter” and the city more generally “can ill afford to lose this little alley and its authentic, even chaotic mix and match uses”.
He said “none of the architectural or planning jargon that swirls around this scheme can justify it”.
Mr McDonald expressed fears the restaurant will be used as a pub and said: “Temple Bar has become a goldmine for publicans… as residents, we just live here amongst all the money-making activities going on around us.”
He urged the appeals board to reject “this opportunistic proposal”.
The appeals board inspector in the case, A Considine, recommended refusal after concluding the development of the restaurant to replace the series of retail shops “would have a detrimental impact on the scale, urban grain and vibrancy of the area”.
The inspector also recommended refusal after concluding that due to the scheme’s height, scale, mass and bulk, it would be out of character with the development of the area.
However, the appeals board granted planning permission after finding that a restaurant replacing the smaller retail units “would be an acceptable design approach which would not have a negative impact on the scale, urban grain and vibrancy of the area”.
The board also ruled the design approach would provide an appropriate design solution for the prominent infill site.
It concluded the scheme would constitute an appropriate quantum of development and would not seriously injure the character of the area.