Businessman Dunne objects to city hotel scheme over his 'feeling for graveyards'

Twilfit House in Dublin which developers plan to demolish to make way for an eight-storey hotel

Gordon Deegan

Businessman Ben Dunne said yesterday that he has objected to plans to demolish Twilfit House in Dublin to make way for an eight-storey hotel because of his interest in graveyards.

Twilfit House houses one of Mr Dunne's gyms at Jervis Street, but Mr Dunne said yesterday that his objection to the planned €19.3m 218-bedroom hotel is not motivated by commercial reasons.

"No, not all. I normally don't object to anything but this is a personal objection because I have concerns over the impact the development will have on the remains interred in Wolfe Tone park. I have a lot of feeling for graveyards," he said.

Mr Dunne's objection - lodged by planning consultant George Watters - contains a number of photos showing headstones in Wolfe Tones park and headstones bounding Twilfit House.

The objection states: "We submit that Wolfe Tone Park should be returned to its original form as a matter of urgency and any future proposal for development at Twilfit House should include a clear strategy to improve the interface between the park and the planned hotel site."

Mr Dunne revealed his reason for objecting yesterday as Dublin City Council put the plan by Abarta Investments on hold.

The council has requested that developers to re-examine the height and scale of the proposal and lodge revised plans.

This followed the local authority stating that the hotel would have an unduly overbearing appearance due to its height and scale and would overshadow Wolfe Tone Park.

In its objection, the Dublin City Association of An Taisce state that there is a huge level of new hotels currently permitted or in the planning system for Dublin.

In the An Taisce objection, Kevin Duff argues "it has reached the point of unsustainability in the context of city centre planning".

However, in a submission, Mary Stack of Fáilte Ireland states that there is a major threat to additional tourism in Dublin "because of the acute shortage of hotel bedrooms in the city centre".

She said: "The current demand far exceeds supply and inevitably in a scenario such as this, prices are inflated giving the message internationally that Dublin is not a competitive destination."

Ms Stack said that the Abarta proposal "would be a valuable addition to the accommodation stock in Dublin and would go some way to address the accommodation challenge being faced by the city".