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 €50m five-star facility were rejected.
Dublin City Council has refused planning permission to Donnybrook Hotel, a company owned by Joe and Margaret Scally, for a hotel on the site of the former St Mary's College in Donnybrook.
The Scallys own the Hayfield Family Collection that includes the five-star Hayfield Manor Hotel in Cork as well as the Killarney Royal Hotel and the Great Southern Hotel, also in Killarney.
They had hoped to convert and extend the former Carmelite seminary on Bloomfield Avenue into a luxury hotel with spa facilities including indoor and outdoor swimming pools.
The proposed development also provided for a new steel-and-glass orangery which would include a tea room and outdoor terrace.
However, Dublin City Council rejected the project, saying 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 that the development, due to its height, would adversely impact the setting of the former college, which is a protected structure, as well as of an adjacent terrace of listed buildings.
In addition, it 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 which would have a negative impact on the setting.
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.
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 Hos- pital 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 Hayfield Family Collection, said the company expected to invest at least €50m in developing the hotel.
Any appeal against the council's ruling to An Bord Pleanala must be made before April 14.