The shape of the Wexford town skyline is set for a dramatic change after the granting of permission for a new €27m hotel development on the old DPL site, opposite Wexford Bridge.
The extensive development, known as the Bridge Park Hotel, is the brainchild of CoAnt Entertainments, a company headed by Neville brothers Colm and Anthony.
It will include a 137-bedroom hotel, ground-floor retail space stretching over 18,567s q.ft, underground car parking for 155 cars, a function room, restaurants and conference facilities, a covered pedestrian link from North Main Street, and nine penthouse apartments.
The development will stand eight storeys over the basement and includes a striking front facade, designed to reflect Wexford’s maritime and sailing activity, with two large sails creating a sense of arrival for traffic entering the town over the bridge.
The application was made in May and the grant comes hot on the heels of a recent An Bord Pleanala approval for the company to develop the Crown Live premises, next door to this site, into a purpose-built concert venue.
The development site is one of historical significance to the town. Much of the land in the area is reclaimed since the 1800s. It was the location of the Town Court House from 1805 until 1921 when it was destroyed by the IRA during the War of Independence.
In more recent times, it has been used as a service station/garage, a building provider’s yard, a bank, and a retail unit.
The application drew a number of observations from the public. John Molloy from Ardcavan welcomed the development of the site, but had concerns over the excessive scale and flooding potential.
Raymond and Rose Chan from Chan’s Restaurant own an adjoining property and voiced concerns over how the development might impact on their right of way, air conditioning, light, fire escape and how excavations would affect them. They requested an inspection of the adjoining property by a structural engineer.
Michael Tierney from the Centenary Stores voiced his concerns over the scale of the development and the servicing of the site, adding that details in relation to refuse and bottle storage and collection were needed.
Maud Murphy from Murphy’s Fishing Tackle Shop at 92 North Main Street feared a loss of light and privacy for her premises. She was also concerned about odour, noise, the impact on her residential property, and damage during works.
Danny Forde from Glenbrook had concerns over flooding and stated that footpaths needed to be kept clear.
Tesco Ireland had no objection to the development but requested that it be determined if the use was comparison or convenience retail.
John White from John Mullins and Associates in Crescent Mall pointed out that the development would demolish a habitable house. They said there were no details of weather proofing, no provision for flooding at 84 North Main Street, and that the site’s previous use as a petrol station could have a contamination risk for the soil.
He also had concerns about structural damage, loss of light and overshadowing , loss of privacy, and lack of car parking. He also believed the development failed to meet the architectural quality required for the site.
However, Wexford County Council saw fit to grant the ambitious application, with 14 conditions attached. These included various statutory contributions for works, directions over noise, dust emissions, surface water and archaeological assessments; and a direction to carry out works in accordance with plans submitted.
The Neville brothers acquired the site at Commercial Quay in 2016 and, since then, have worked tirelessly with the design team, which includes local architect Stephen Carr, and a number of other consultants to bring forward the application.
Colm Neville expressed his delight on securing permission for the development but said that it was but one step in the process. He stressed that they would be working tirelessly over the next number of years to deliver what would be a ‘landmark building on an iconic site’.
He added that they were thrilled to add another hotel to their portfolio which also includes, among others, the Riverside Park Hotel in Enniscorthy and the Midlands Park Hotel in Laois, both of which have undergone substantial refurbishments in the past two years.
As the current chairman of Visit Wexford, he felt the timing of the development was appropriate due to the general improving economic environment, and upward trend in tourism figures. He believed the County Council support and investment in tourism would be a real ‘game changer ’ for the county in coming years.
Mr Neville added that the hotel, when complete, would create 190 jobs in Wexford, bringing total employment figures for the hotel group to more than 600.