An Taisce backs ho­tel plan scru­tiny

Sunday Independent (Ireland) - Business & Appointments - - FRONT PAGE - Fearghal O’con­nor

HER­ITAGE group An Taisce has de­fended its ob­jec­tions to a num­ber of Dublin ho­tel de­vel­op­ments at a time when the cap­i­tal is suf­fer­ing a short­age of rooms. Plan­ning de­lays have stalled a num­ber of key projects in­volv­ing hun­dreds of new ho­tel rooms, which in turn is help­ing to drive up av­er­age room prices, in­dus­try sources have claimed.

Plans for a 249-room ho­tel on the site of the derelict for­mer mo­tor tax build­ing River House were ap­pealed by An Taisce and await a de­ci­sion. Other projects await­ing res­o­lu­tion in­clude ho­tels at An­drew’s Lane, Har­court Ter­race, the for­mer Tivoli The­atre on Fran­cis Street and the Howl at the Moon site on Mount Street.

Plans for the Or­mond Ho­tel and for Marl­bor- ough Street were held up by sim­i­lar ob­jec­tions but are ex­pected to start in the coming months.

“We un­der­stand the need for ho­tel rooms but there are plan­ning reg­u­la­tions in place in Dublin,” said An Taisce spokesman Charles Stan­ley-smith. An Taisce only makes plan­ning sub­mis­sions where it be­lieves peo­ple are break­ing the plan­ning guide­lines, he said. “We would be fully be­hind a nice re­de­vel­op­ment of the Or­mond Ho­tel given the cur­rent state that it is in.”

Like­wise, with River House, Stan­ley-smith said An Taisce would sup­port plans to re­de­velop the en­tire mar­kets area.

“I would agree that the build­ing [River House]that is there right now is not the world’s finest. But it is to try and en­sure that what­ever is built is go­ing to fit in and not over- power what could be a very nice area of Dublin.”

There is no ex­cuse to re­place one un­suit­able build­ing with an­other un­suit­able build­ing, he said.

Last week, Ryanair’s Kenny Ja­cobs raised se­ri­ous con­cerns about ris­ing ho­tel room prices in Dublin, link­ing it di­rectly to the low num­ber of rooms built in the city.

“We have to fix the ho­tel short­age that I know is on the way to be­ing fixed,” he said. “But last year there were 20 ho­tel beds added in all of Dublin. It is sim­ply not good enough and it is driv­ing prices up. We need to keep prices down — at air­ports, for ac­com­mo­da­tion, in restau­rants.”

The Crowe Hor­wath ho­tel in­dus­try sur­vey said last week that av­er­age rates in Dublin ho­tels are at an all-time high, ris­ing 15pc in 2016 to sur­pass pre­vi­ous record rates achieved dur­ing the boom.

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