Planners block 300-bed hotel in historic part of Dublin

Developer Esprit Investments ‘disappointed’ with decision which it is now reviewing

Planners have refused developer Esprit Investments permission for a 300-bedroom hotel on Mount Street in Dublin saying the proposed seven-storey building would overshadow a historic area of the capital.

Esprit, owned by Jones Engineering founder Eric Kinsella, last year sought permission from Dublin City Council to build the hotel and apartments on a site bounded by Mount Street Upper, James’s Place East and Herbert Street in central Dublin.

Council planners refused permission for the hotel but said they would allow the apartments in a decision issued days ago.

Esprit said it was “disappointed” with the ruling, adding that it was reviewing it before deciding on its next step.


The company can appeal the council’s finding to An Bord Pleanála, but did not comment on this. Nor did it say how failing to get permission for the hotel would affect the overall project which includes 16 apartments, public facilities and a building the developer earmarked for Scoil Chaitríona on Baggot Street.

Dublin City Council said the hotel “would not contribute positively to the local area character and distinctiveness”.

It added that it would have a significantly adverse impact on the area’s special architectural character and protected structures and on the “amenity and outlook” of Scoil Chaitríona, opposite the site, as well as contravening several planning policies.

The council argued the hotel’s “height, scale, massing and site boundaries” would likely have “noticeable and detrimental overbearing and overshadowing impacts on neighbouring property” and their privacy.

Consequently planners maintained the hotel would be an overdevelopment of the site, devalue neighbouring properties and “would be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”.

Esprit pledged the development would be “sensitive to the existing site”, while materials used would reflect the area’s character and newer buildings, when it sought planning in December.

The plans involved converting offices that house law firm LK Shields in a Georgian terrace on Mount Street to accommodate the hotel entrance and 20 suites, and then demolishing buildings on nearby James’s Street and replacing them with a seven-storey structure that would form the rest of the hotel.

A glazed bridge over a sunken garden would link the hotel’s two sections. Esprit said this would act as a buffer between the Georgian architecture and the newly-built element.

At 300 bedrooms, it would be one of the biggest hotels in Dublin, outranking the Shelbourne, with more than 260 rooms, the Intercontinental in Ballsbridge, with 200-plus, and Hotel Riu Plaza the Gresham, with almost 290. The Clayton Burlington Hotel is the largest in the city centre, with 502 rooms.

A planner’s report into the application notes that policy favours hotels as tourism is key to Dublin’s economy, but states they should not be concentrated in areas that already have a lot of accommodation. It said new hotels should have regard to the existing character of the area.

Esprit is currently building an office on the junction of Townsend and Shaw streets in Dublin, dubbed Trinity North, that will straddle the intercity and Dart lines running south from Connolly station, and a logistics park off the M4 motorway.

It has subsidiaries in Spain and the United States. Its most recent accounts valued its investment properties at more than €338 million.

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O'Halloran

Barry O’Halloran covers energy, construction, insolvency, and gaming and betting, among other areas