Plans by one of Munster's leading hotel groups to break into the Dublin market have suffered a major setback after its proposal for a new €50m five-star facility was rejected. Dublin City Council refused planning permission to Donnybrook Hotel, a company owned by hoteliers, Joe and Margaret Scally, for a hotel on the site of the former St Mary's College in Donnybrook.
The Scallys, who own the Hayfield Family Collection that includes the five-star Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork, the Killarney Royal Hotel and the Great Southern Hotel in Killarney, had hoped to convert and extend the former Carmelite seminary on Bloomfield Avenue in Donnybrook into a luxury hotel with spa facility including indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
The proposed development also provided for a new steel-and-glass orangery with a tea room and outdoor terrace.
However, Dublin City Council has rejected the project claiming it did not meet the zoning objective of the 1.2 hectare site as 25pc of the land was not set aside for open space and/or community facilities.
Planners also ruled the proposed height would adversely impact the setting of the former college which is a protected structure as well as an adjacent terrace of listed buildings.
In addition, they said the extent of access driveways, turning areas, parking, set down areas and ramps planned for the hotel would result in a significant loss of mature trees and landscaping of historical value.
In its planning application, Donnybrook Hotel said it was committed to carrying out a high-quality hotel development that would have regard to the features, character and protected status of the former college.
The company said it had also submitted revised plans after a number of issues were raised during pre-application consultations with the council's planners, while further amendments were made after the council sought further information on the proposed development.
It had called on the council not to examine the site of the hotel in isolation but to consider the entire parcel of land incorporating the Royal Hospital Donnybrook and the Avila Carmelite Centre which had the same zoning.
On that basis, the company argued the zoning objective of institutional and community uses was being retained.
Last year, Mark Scally, the financial director of the Hayfield Family Collection, said the company expected to invest at least €50m in development of the 195-room hotel.
Fáilte Ireland said the proposed hotel would be a valuable addition to the accommodation stock in Dublin and would go some way to addressing the acute shortage of hotel rooms in the city.
The monastery and college at St Mary's date from 1875 and were extended at various times up to the 1940s to cater for more than 40 seminarians
The Scally family bought the property for just under €16m in early 2018.
Any appeal against the ruling to An Bord Pleanála must be made before April 14.