THE OWNERS of the historic St Helen's House in south Dublin are in for a showdown with the national trust, An Taisce, over a proposed expansion of the hotel at the site.
Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Council has already granted permission for a two-storey extension at part of the hotel, but the final decision now rests with An Bord Pleanala.
The Cosgrave Property Group owns the building – trading as the Radisson Blu – and the company has signalled its intention to extend the Talavera restaurant at the hotel.
But An Taisce has objected and appealed the council's decision to the planning board because St Helen's House is designated as a national monument and a protected structure.
The Cosgrave Group wants to extend the lower ground and ground floor levels of the structure and extend a glazed conservatory at the site by 30sqm.
In a letter, An Taisce said that the proposal would "undermine the integrity of the upper terrace which is a protected site and would affect the overall setting of St Helen's House, also a protected building".
It said that the terrace garden at the house was the first post-1750 garden registered in the state as a historic monument.
"Its protection is crucial to the historic, visual and aesthetic significance of its principal house, St Helen's," it added.
The objection also noted a previous decision by An Bord Pleanala to reject planning permission at the site in 2002, citing the necessity to protect the integrity and symmetry of the formal terrace garden.
"Ireland has produced an extraordinary number of British military commanders," Ian Lumley, from An Taisce, told the Herald.
He said that Field Marshal Hugh Gough, the first Viscount Gough, resided at St Helen's in his final years from 1851 until he died in 1869.
"Viscount Gough was an important historical figure whose name appears in history books all over the place," he said.
"He was involved in the Peninsular War with Napoleon and then in one of the most controversial wars in history, the first Opium War in China."
Viscount Gough served as commander-in-chief of the British forces in India and led the army that defeated the Sikhs during both the first and second Anglo-Sikh Wars. Following his years as a leader in the imperial British army, he retired to St Helen's in Stillorgan.The Cosgrave Group did not return a request for comment.