€40m hotel plan gets go-ahead despite concerns over security
An Bord Pleanala has given the go-ahead for a €40m luxury hotel on St Stephen's Green - despite concerns from officials at the Department of Foreign Affairs that it poses a security risk.
The appeals board gave the go-ahead for company Brown Table Solutions to convert Loreto Hall into an 87-room hotel.
The department argued its headquarters at Iveagh House, close to Loreto Hall, regularly plays host to heads of state, national and foreign dignitaries and political leaders for sensitive meetings and negotiations.
"The security and privacy of the Iveagh House premises is of paramount importance," it said.
"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 the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade."
The department said it did not object in principle to the redevelopment of Loreto Hall, but asked the board to refuse planning permission for the proposal "in order that a more considered development of appropriate scale and form may take place".
An Bord Pleanala responded to concerns by ordering the omission of a planned penthouse suite level, and of one floor from the planned hotel.
The board also found the proposal would not adversely affect the character or architectural significance of the historic buildings around the site.
It found the plan would not seriously injure the amenities of properties in the vicinity and would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience.
The permission came against a background of An Taisce campaigning against the number of hotels now planned for the capital.
In response to plans for a separate eight-storey hotel north of the Liffey, An Taisce said a huge number of new hotels have currently been permitted or are in the planning system.
In an objection, the organisation's Kevin Duff argued "it has reached the point of unsustainability in the context of city centre planning".
In contrast, Failte Ireland has said there is a major threat to additional tourism in Dublin because of "the acute shortage of hotel bedrooms" in the city centre.
Loreto Hall went on the market last year, with a guide price of €5.75m.