Battle over Cobblestone continues as developers lodge appeal

Last month, opponents of the scheme were celebrating a comprehensive refusal by DCC of the contentious hotel plan.
Battle over Cobblestone continues as developers lodge appeal

Gordon Deegan

The planning battle over the future of the Cobblestone pub in Dublin’s Smithfield area is not over and will continue into 2022.

This follows confirmation that Marron Estates Ltd has lodged a first party appeal against Dublin City Council’s (DCC) decision to refuse planning permission to the company for its scheme that involves the construction of a 114 bedroom nine storey hotel over the protected structure of the Cobblestone pub on Dublin’s King Street.

On Thursday, Dublin City Council’s planning department was busy processing letters to more than 700 parties who objected to the scheme to formally inform them that an appeal has been lodged.

Last month, opponents of the scheme were celebrating a comprehensive refusal by DCC of the contentious hotel plan.

The council stated that the nine-storey over basement development “would be overbearing and significantly out of scale and character with the prevailing architectural context, and would represent substantial over-development of this highly sensitive site”.

The impact on the Cobblestone pub was also a specific ground of refusal by the council.

The council stated that the proposed development, resulting in the loss of the existing backroom area to the rear of Cobblestone public house, which has 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.

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.

'Significant cultural loss'

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

In a rare intervention in the planning arena, the director of the Arts Council, Maureen Kennelly told DCC: “the medium term closure - during construction - and likely reduction in the physical and social footprint of the Cobblestone pub and live music venue on completion would be a significant cultural loss to the Smithfield area and the city of Dublin”.

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

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

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

In his objection, Steve Wall contended:“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”.

He said: “It must be saved.”

However, a heritage assessment lodged with the planning application pointed out that the hotel that will be developed over the Cobblestone pub “will be set back from the building line in order to retain the existing character of the buildings at street level”.

The report stated that the existing buildings on site “are generally in poor condition and their survival is not guaranteed without some development of the site”.

'Vibrant and attractive landmark'

A separate planning report by planning consultants for Marron Estates, McCutcheon Halley stated that the scheme “has been designed to respond sensitively to the existing protected structures and will incorporate and adapt these buildings for new use, therefore creating new modern elements which respect the site’s heritage”.

McCutcheon Halley stated that the scheme “will create a vibrant and attractive landmark building”.

The consultants stated that the development of the hotel along with the addition of a new restaurant and retention of the Cobblestone pub “will contribute to the growth of Dublin as a global city of scale”.

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

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