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Sunday 4 December 2016

Tourism boss wants new 20-storey hotels in city

Failte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley (Fennell Photography)
Failte Ireland chairman Michael Cawley (Fennell Photography)

Planning rules should be changed to allow 20-storey hotels to be built in the capital, according to the chairman of Failte Ireland.

Michael Cawley, the former senior Ryanair executive who heads up the State agency, said he sees no reason why, in certain parts of Dublin - in, or closer to, the city centre - that hoteliers shouldn't be allowed to make the most of limited available space in order to generate a better return on expensive sites and development costs.

This would also enable them to address a shortage of available rooms in the city, he argued.

He described as "farcical" current building regulations for the city centre that prohibit the construction of most commercial buildings more than seven storeys high, except in very specific areas.

Limited

Mr Cawley insisted it's difficult for hoteliers to generate a return on a site and development costs when they're limited to a maximum of seven storeys in most of the city centre.

"Sites are expensive. If you look at top hotels abroad, they're 15 or 20 storeys," he said.

He acknowledged that not all areas would be appropriate for tall hotels, but said others would, declaring: "If you added three or four 15 or 20-storey blocks in the IFSC, it wouldn't be that significant.

"You could do it a little bit out of town too, maybe in areas such as Ballsbridge."

The former chief operations officer at Ryanair said a report prepared for Failte Ireland showed that there are just 5,000 hotel rooms due to come on stream in Dublin over the next five years, and most won't be available until 2019 or 2020.

"It's not enough to mop up demand," he said. "It's still about 5,000 short of what we need."

Dublin City Council is in the process of determining a new development plan for the capital, which is intended to be finalised by the end of this year.

While confirming that Dublin will remain predominantly low-rise, it has conceded that taller buildings "can also play an important visual role".

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