Objections stall plans to revamp hotel site into upmarket retail store

Plans to convert a former hotel in Cork city centre into an upmarket retail store have been put on hold following objections from a number of local businesses and An Taisce.

An Bord Pleanála has received a number of appeals against Cork City Council’s recent decision to grant planning permission for the redevelopment of the former Victoria Hotel on St Patrick’s Street.

RESAM, a development firm owned by Joe Donnelly, a former bookmaker who bought the property in 2015 for a figure believed to be around €750,000, plans to redevelop and refurbish the site of the former 33-bedroom hotel into “a high order retail outlet”.

The site was valued at €4m when it was placed on the market in 2003.

Among the famous guests who have stayed in the Royal Victoria, as it was known when it first opened in 1810, were Charles Stewart Parnell, Winston Churchill, Michael Collins, John Redmond, Liam Cosgrave and James Joyce who made a reference to the hotel in A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.

It also hosted the second-ever meeting of the GAA in 1884 following its establishment in Hayes Hotel in Thurles.

More recently it was home to Coco’s nightclub and the Gay Future bar which was named after a famous horse racing betting sting organised by a Cork syndicate. The ground floor of the hotel was converted to a retail outlet during the 1980s and currently houses branches of Monsoon and Accessorize. The upper storeys have been vacant for several years.

Under the plans for the site, the rear portions of the building which faces Cook Street will be demolished and replaced with a new building, while an additional floor will be added on to the entire development.

In its appeal, the Cork branch of An Taisce said the former hotel, while not a protected structure, warrants being made a listed building because of its regional historical importance.

John Grace, who owns a fast food outlet on Cook Street, John Grace’s Fried Chicken, has asked An Bord Pleanála to refuse planning permission for the redevelopment of the former hotel site claiming it would deteriorate the local streetscape.

Mr Grace said the closure of the hotel, whose entrance was on Cook Street, had resulted in a considerable loss of footfall and general activity on Cook Street – a loss he claimed which would be made permanent by approving RESAM’s plans.

Given plans by Penney’s for another large development on the opposite corner of St Patrick’s Street and Cook Street, Mr Grace expressed concern that small businesses would become “marginalised”.

“The proposed development will result in a loss of night-time activity in Cook Street and will produce a lack of consumer variety,” he added.


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