Top hotel sues council chiefs for defamation
LA STAMPA: Conservation storm
A TOP Dublin hotel has issued defamation proceedings against the City Council.
La Stampa Hotel on Dawson Street in Dublin 2 has launched the case after it was accused by a local authority conservation officer of an "appalling breach" of the planning act.
The official said La Stampa damaged the "architectural significance" of its historic premises. The hotel had applied for permission to retain alterations already carried out, including the provision of an external covered seating area for serving food and drink.
But the council turned down the application following the stinging comments.
In a report, the conservation officer said the hotel's justification for the works was not supported and "the removal and damage of a significant protected structure immediately opposite the residence of the Lord Mayor represents an appalling breach and avoidance of responsibility set out under the Planning & Development Act 2000".
But a source at the hotel said it commissioned its own conservation assessment, which refutes every one of the points made by the city official.
"This incident is now the subject of defamation proceedings against Dublin City Council," the insider told the Herald.
He said the hotel hired the country's best conservation expert who showed the inaccuracies in the council report.
He added that the development consisted of removing two of the hotel's windows, which "were never there prior to the late 20th century".
No comment was received from the local authority.
The hotel building is a protected structure, meaning stringent rules govern work on the property.
The council officer pointed out the Dawson Street zone was designated an "architectural conservation area with specific policy pertaining to the repair and conservation of the exterior of buildings".
Refusing La Stampa's application, the council ruled the development would set an undesirable precedent for similar ones in the vicinity.
The hotel, which is owned by Louis Murray, has now appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanala, with a final decision due on September 26.
The conservation officer recommended the La Stampa file be referred to the council's planning enforcement section "for their urgent review".