Plans for a major expansion of the Dingle Distillery, including a new visitor centre in Dingle, have been placed on hold following objections from a number of local residents.
Two appeals have been lodged with An Bord Pleanála against the recent decision of Kerry County Council to grant planning permission for a large-scale redevelopment at one of the country's best-known artisan distilleries.
The plans provide for the retention of the existing distillery at Old Mill, Milltown, Dingle, plus the construction of almost 1,800m² in additional floor space through the construction of a new three-storey circular tower and extensions to the existing main building.
The works will allow for the development of a new first-floor visitor centre with a bar and viewing balcony overlooking Dingle Harbour as well as new production and storage areas and a retail outlet on the ground floor.
The Dingle Distillery was established in 2012 by the late businessman, Oliver Hughes and his cousin, Liam LaHart who also set up the Porterhouse pub and craft brewery group, in an old saw mill on the western edge of Dingle with the first whiskey produced at the plant released in 2015.
In addition to whiskey, the distillery also produces Dingle Original Gin and Dingle Distillery Vodka. The company said the distillery’s existing facilities were now inadequate in terms of production and receiving visitors.
It claimed the redevelopment would enhance its capacity for whiskey production on a 24-hours basis as it is currently one of the smallest of 37 whiskey producers on the island of Ireland. The company also plans to provide a shuttle bus service from the centre of Dingle for visitors during summer months.
It anticipates significantly expanding its current workforce of 25 to cater for the expected increase in production, sales and tours of the distillery.
The proposed redevelopment has been supported by Fáilte Ireland who claimed the visitor centre was a key element of its plans to improve the tourist experience on the Dingle Peninsula.
Kerry County Council said the development would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and environmental impacts, while it would not be injurious to the amenities of adjoining properties subject to compliance with planning conditions.
However, one local resident, whose family home adjoins the distillery site, has complained that the smells, noise and general disturbance from the plant’s operations have significantly impacted on the enjoyment of her property.
While the other appellant said the expansion of the Dingle Distillery was welcome, he claimed the scale and nature of the proposed development was concerning. He described the round tower as a fantasy. “The distillery is a distillery, not Rapunzel’s castle,” he remarked.
A ruling in the case by An Bord Pleanála is due in early April 2022.