Hoteliers in Dublin have been advised that converting basement floors to provide windowless bedrooms is not the answer to the city’s shortage of tourist accommodation.
An Bord Pleanála has refused planning permission for the proposed conversion of the basement level of a large city centre hotel to provide extra bedrooms, without any natural daylight, claiming such a measure is “unacceptable”.
Balrath Investments, owner of the Grafton Capital Hotel on Lower Stephen’s St, near the back of St Stephen’s Green shopping centre, wanted to replace a gym, meeting rooms, and plant with 12 windowless bedrooms.
The hotel, which has 128 bedrooms and which once operated the popular Break for the Border bar and nightclub, argued that windowless bedrooms are becoming more commonplace around the world in response to consumer demands.
Balrath Investments, which is owned by Eamon Waters, the CEO of Panda Waste, has appealed the decision of Dublin City Council to refuse planning permission for the project.
Council planners claimed the provision of windowless bedrooms is not an appropriate standard of amenity for hotel accommodation in the city. Fáilte Ireland’s hotel classification criteria also require all hotel bedrooms to have a window — a fact contested by Grafton Capital.
The hotel accused the council of having a “totally subjective opinion” and of seeking to impose a particular and singular view on what constituted an appropriate form of hotel bedroom accommodation.
Grafton Captial said it is unrealistic to expect all bedrooms in a constricted inner-city site to provide views. The company claimed windowless hotel bedrooms are found in cities such as London, Paris, Rome, and New York. The hotel also disputed the council’s conclusion that the proposed bedrooms are substandard.
An Bord Pleanála has now upheld the council’s ruling claiming the proposed change of use of the hotel’s basement area to 12 windowless bedrooms “would constitute an unacceptable form of development”.
It warned that allowing such a development would create an undesirable precedent for other hotels in Dublin as well as being inconsistent with the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022 which aims to promote and facilitate tourism as one of the key pillars of the city’s economy.
The ruling sends a strong signal that projects which include the provision of windowless hotel rooms will struggle to secure planning approval.