Planning chiefs block Ashling aparthotel bid

Ashling Hotel Dublin

John Mulligan

Plans for a multi-million euro aparthotel beside the Ashling Hotel in Dublin, which is owned by Galway's Flannery family, have been refused by An Bord Pleanála despite the watchdog's own inspector recommending the project be approved.

The Flannerys had sought permission for a nine-storey aparthotel at the site, which would have had 27 self-contained executive suites. The Flannerys originally sought permission for a 10-storey building that would have had 31 suites.

The project would have involved the demolition of four semi-derelict buildings adjacent to the existing Ashling Hotel.

Dublin City Council had refused the plan, saying it would be contrary to development plan provisions and to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.

It said the proposed building would not "protect or enhance the character and appearance of the area and its setting".

The Ashling Hotel, acquired by the Flannerys in 1996, is located a short distance from Heuston Station as well as an entrance to the Phoenix Park.

An Taisce had opposed the plan for the new aparthotel, arguing that it would involve the demolition of historic buildings. However, the buildings are not protected.

The company behind the Ashling Hotel that made the planning application, the Flannerys' Foxfield Inns firm, had stated that the proposed development was close to a major transport hub and in an area in need of regeneration, which also has a shortage of tourist accommodation.

An Bord Pleanála's inspector said the four buildings that the hotel owners planned to demolish made no significant contribution to the streetscape, "nor is their social value of such strength to warrant their retention".

The inspector also noted that the location was an appropriate site for a high-density development.

But the board rejected the planner's advice and in refusing the project cited the council's view that the scheme would be in contravention of provisions for proper planning and sustainable development in the area.