Saturday 16 December 2017

JD Wetherspoon expansion hits planning barrier

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Gordon Deegan and John Mulligan

GIVING JD Wetherspoon permission to build a new €4m superpub "would be an unwelcome milestone" in the trend to "completely alcoholise" a Dublin street, according to a resident.

Barry Chambers has halted the JD Wetherspoon plan - for now - after lodging an appeal with An Bord Pleanála against Dublin City Council's decision to grant permission.

A report lodged by the UK-based Wetherspoon with the council shows that there are 12 pubs in the area of Camden Street/Wexford Street.

The company said the plan which includes a 98-bedroom hotel, would create 100 jobs if it was given the green light. 

The application coincides with a separate Wetherspoon pub plan, which has received the go-ahead on Dublin's Lower Abbey Street. Mr Chambers told An Bord Pleanála that allowing another pub in the Camden area, "would be seriously detrimental to the residential amenity and character of the area".

He argues that "drink-fuelled ever-increasing noise, nuisance and anti-social behaviour, ranging from the benign to the very serious which goes hand in hand with the drinking culture has already started to change the character of the area for the worse.

"The introduction of a super pub selling cheap alcohol does not bear thinking [about]."

Mr Chambers points out that the area is densely-populated with young families and said "it is sincerely hoped that we do not go further down the Temple Bar route - an area that has been blighted by the over concentration of pubs and late-night drinking".

Wetherspoons has also appealed a condition contained in the permission that excludes a courtyard area, stating that the plan provides for adequate protection of residential amenity, pointing out that the level of noise from the development would be negligible in the context of city living.

JD Wetherspoon also said the bar is not intended as a late-night destination, with the latest opening hours to be 12.30am at weekends.

It also said it is committed to upholding the objectives of its own code on responsible retailing.

The firm states that the planned courtyard will be used for low-key dining and will not incorporate any amplified music and will therefore have minimal impact on residential amenity.

Consultants for the pub giant have pointed out that the site is vacant and that the plan "will deliver a commercial development that will create vibrancy at street level and restore vitality to the surrounding area".

The firm states a reduction in seating would reduce the viability of the bar and the hotel.

A decision on the appeals is due next April.

Meanwhile, a Dublin company whose directors include Ulster Bank's former head of capital markets, David MacNeice, has been refused a planning extension for a multi-million euro hotel in the capital after failing to submit relevant documentation on time.

The company - Locket Connections - had planned to build an 18-bedroom, five-storey boutique hotel on Parnell Street. It secured planning permission in 2011, but did not proceed at the time.

Locket Connections sought a time extension to the planning permission from Dublin City Council in October.

The council had sought some additional information, but it was not received within the required four weeks and permission was therefore refused.

Locket Connections, which is backed by Ulster Bank, is owned by Designer Electric, which is in turn owned by Michael and Grainne Stone. Mr Stone is a former ESB executive.

Mr MacNeice has been the chief financial officer at the Designer Group, which is a leading mechanical and electrical engineering contracting firm, since 2015.

Irish Independent

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