Plans for a new, purpose-built, music venue on the Wexford quay front has been given the green light by An Bord Pleanala following an appeal against the County Council permission grant.
CoAnt Entertainments Limited had applied to and received planning permission from Wexford County Council for the demolition of the existing Crown Live premises and construction of a new live music premises at Commercial Quay. However, in May of this year, David O'Connor of 18 Commercial Quay lodged an appeal against the application - issues raised related to fire escape access and a loss of natural light to his business premises.
Last week, An Bord Pleanala upheld Wexford County Council's decision to grant the application, with some conditions. These related to sound and noise monitoring, the final artwork for the front mural, site hours and archaeological conditions, and contributions to the local authority for public infrastructure, facilities and to offset the loss of four on-street car parking spaces.
The board also stressed that works be carried out in accordance with a Construction Management Plan and in accordance with the submitted plans and particulars.
Hotelier Colm Neville is one of the owners of Crown Live and he expressed his delight with the decision that would open the door for the expansion and development of the venue which, he said, is already proving to be a popular facility for concerts.
Crown Live will welcome music acts, The Blizzards, Riptide Movement, Damien Dempsey and Mick Flannery in the coming months.
Mr Neville said: 'We are thrilled with the success of the shows held to date in Crown Live and we are only delighted to be able to bring such artists to Wexford where previously there really wasn't an appropriate venue.'
The venue currently has capacity for 300 people standing but the new one would hold up to 500, with 150 tiered seats on a balcony and a standing area on the ground floor, similar to Dublin's Olympia Theatre.
'This will allow us to bring even bigger acts to Wexford and will enable us to establish Crown Live as an even more creditable venue on the circuit of live band venues.'
He added his hope that it would give music lovers the chance to see quality music and comedy acts without having to travel to Dublin. The green room facilities will also be greatly enhanced as part of the works.
Mr Neville said that he and his brother, and co-owner, Anthony, would sit down in the coming weeks to consider a timeline for the redevelopment of the venue, saying that they would, more than likely, wait for the outcome of another planning application that they have submitted on a neighbouring site.
CoAnt expects a response to an application for a substantial 137 bedroom hotel, retail space and car park, which would be located next door to Crown Live and directly opposite Wexford Bridge. The company also owns the Crown Bar, which backs on to both sites, having bought it in July 2015.
Mr Neville, who also owns the Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy along with a number of hotels across the country, said the urgency to expand would be driven by demand and, subsequently, their ability to attract bigger bands.
He said they were delighted that the opportunity to expand had been granted and they could move forward when they felt the time was right.