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‘Cobblestone’s cultural offering would be maintained in reduced plan’ – architect submits revised proposal for Dublin pub

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Ispíní Na hÉireann band members Adam Holohan, Tomás Mulligan, Oisín Mulligan playing outside the Cobblestone in Smithfield, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Ispíní Na hÉireann band members Adam Holohan, Tomás Mulligan, Oisín Mulligan playing outside the Cobblestone in Smithfield, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Ispíní Na hÉireann band members Adam Holohan, Tomás Mulligan, Oisín Mulligan playing outside the Cobblestone in Smithfield, Dublin. Photo: Mark Condren

Developers are claiming that a scaled-back plan for a hotel over Dublin’s Cobblestone pub will ensure that the pub's cultural offering will be maintained.

C&W O’Brien Architects, for Marron Estates, told An Bord Pleanála that instead of the original 114-bedroomed, nine-storey scheme put forward to Dublin City Council, Marron is now proposing a seven-storey scheme over the protected structure of the pub on Dublin’s King Street, Smithfield.

As part of the appeal to An Bord Pleanála against the comprehensive refusal by Dublin City Council, C&W O’Brien is proposing “the retention of the entire Cobblestone pub over all floors at basement, ground and first and second floors”.

The removal of the backroom of the Cobblestone pub was a controversial component of the original scheme and was also a specific ground of refusal by the council.

The council said the loss of the existing backroom area to the rear of the Cobblestone pub, which was developed as a space for teaching, rehearsal and performance for traditional music, would be contrary to development plan provisions in respect of culture in the city.

Now, Marron Estates is proposing to relocate the backroom “to a purpose-built performing space contained within the retained historic yard to the rear of the site”.

On behalf of C&W O’Brien Architects, Arthur O’Brien said: “In order for the proposed development to fulfil the maximum site potential, it was necessary to propose relocating the existing back room venue to a new purpose built performing space, with a direct link to the Cobblestone pub.”

He said this would allow “for a new space for teaching, rehearsal and performance for traditional music, maintaining the role of the existing backroom”.

“This, along with the reduced proposals of maintaining all other uses at first and second floor above the existing Cobblestone pub, would ensure that the important cultural offering would be maintained.”

In the appeal, Mr O’Brien also argued the reduced seven-storey height “would not be considered inappropriate for this location, given its prominence at the book end that terminates the North/South vista of Smithfield Square”.

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The council concluded the original scheme would result in serious injury to the amenities of adjoining properties.

However, in response, Mr O’Brien said in the appeal: “All developments in a tight urban grain have the potential to impact on the surrounding properties.

“It must be recognised that due to the city centre location, the constraints of the site and the context of the surrounding environment and properties, any meaningful development on this site will result in some form of impact relating to daylight and sunlight.

“The reduced scheme offered, significantly reduces the impact on the surrounding properties.”

Arguing for planning permission for the reduced proposal, Mr O’Brien said: “It is submitted that the proposal is an appropriate design response to such a well-located site and in offering a reduced proposal, the board will consider this in their assessment of this case.”

The Cobblestone is unique. It’s one of the last few pubs in Dublin to hear traditional music and to experience Irish culture. Traditional music in a pub is exactly the sort of experience that most tourists coming to Ireland seek out. Not a hotel bar. The proposal to engulf it into a hotel will destroy it

“Furthermore, this application offers an opportunity to redevelop this important site, one that has laid vacant and in disrepair for a substantial number of years.”

The council refused planning permission after a large-scale campaign for the complete retention of the Cobblestone pub that resulted in 717 objections being lodged against the scheme.

In the dispute, the Arts Council intervened arguing what was planned “would be a significant cultural loss to the city of Dublin”.

In his objection, Minister for State for Heritage and Electoral Reform, Malcolm Noonan, told the council it was clear that the loss of the Cobblestone as a music and performing arts venue “is of deep concern to the whole community”.

Mr Noonan urged Dublin City Council to refuse planning permission “and prioritise the cultural, social vibrancy and character of the city of Dublin” .

Those who objected to the scheme included founding member of The Stunning and The Walls, Steve Wall.

In his objection, Mr Wall said: “The Cobblestone is unique. It’s one of the last few pubs in Dublin to hear traditional music and to experience Irish culture. Traditional music in a pub is exactly the sort of experience that most tourists coming to Ireland seek out. Not a hotel bar. The proposal to engulf it into a hotel will destroy it.”

Mr Wall said that the Cobblestone “has been an integral part of Smithfield and musicians travel to it from all over Dublin”.

“It must be saved,” he said.

A decision is due on the appeal in April and parties can make submissions to the appeals board on the appeal lodged.


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