Premier Inn wants Dublin planners to water down proposed development restrictions

UK-owned hotel company wants to build up to 2,500 budget rooms in the city

Whitbread, the listed UK hospitality group that owns the Premier Inn budget hotel brand, has urged Dublin city planners to water down proposed development rules that would limit the number of new hotels, as it chases sites in the city centre to build up to 2,500 new rooms.

The company, which owns a 213-bedroom hotel near Dublin Airport, opened its second Premier Inn in the city in November, a 97-bedroom property on South Great George’s Street that cost it €19 million to build.

It is currently building three further Premier Inns in Dublin with construction on a fourth new project due to start in the summer, bringing its total room count in the capital to just over 1,000.

In a submission to Dublin City Council on its draft development plan for the city for 2022-2028, consultants acting on behalf of Whitbread say the company sees the potential for 2,500 Premier Inn rooms in the city centre alone, aimed at domestic and British travellers.


It says Dublin is “significantly lacking” in three-star hotels, to which it says the ungraded Premier Inn brand equates. However, the council has been criticised in recent years by protestors and some councillors for the perceived over-development of the city’s hotel sector during the housing crisis.

In the draft development plan, the council says it wants to “counter balance the recent over development of hotels” in the city. It proposes to prevent the “over concentration” of new hotel development by requiring all applicants for new hotels to submit a report to the council of all existing and proposed hotels and aparthotels within a 1km radius.

The proposed rules would also require planners to consider a new hotel proposal in the context of how many student accommodation facilities were in the area, as well as hotels and aparthotels. When submitting their 1km catchment area report, new hotel developers would be required to show that the project would not “undermine the balanced pattern of development” in the local area.

Hotelier-backed schemes

Whitbread’s consultants say the 1km catchment limit should be reduced to 500 metres, given Dublin’s “limited scale”, especially in the city centre. They argue that many hotel proposals for the city have not been made by hoteliers and are “speculative”. It asks the council to give preference to hotelier-backed schemes, such as its own.

It also wants the requirement to list proposed new hotels to be eliminated from the catchment area report, as many of them will never be built, it says. It says the link to new student accommodation should be deleted from the draft development plan, as they have “clear market separation” from hotels.

Premier Inn’s upcoming new Dublin projects include three hotels due to open late this year and next year at Gloucester Street, behind Grant Thornton’s headquarters in Dublin’s Docklands; a 150-bedroom development at Newmarket, behind St Patrick’s Cathedral; and at Castleforbes Street in the north docklands, where Glenveagh Properties is building it a 260-bedroom hotel.

Just over two years ago it also bought a site near Jervis Street shopping centre in the city, where it plans an eight-storey, 200-bedroom new hotel, where the objectors to the development included gym owner and former supermarkets magnate Ben Dunne. Whitbread owns 820 Premier Inns in the UK.

Mark Paul

Mark Paul

Mark Paul is London Correspondent for The Irish Times