The owners of a well-known pub in Kinsale have failed to prevent the development of a new guesthouse in an adjoining premises in the town which they claim will threaten the future of their business.
An Bord Pleanála has rejected an appeal by publican, Brian O’Neill who runs the Tap Tavern, against the decision of Cork County Council to grant planning permission for the new 10-bedroom guesthouse on the site of the Kinsale Tire Store on Guardwell, Kinsale.
The board also rejected the recommendation of its own planning inspector that planning permission for the guesthouse proposed by businessman, Denis Noel O’Mahony, should be refused because it would result in “undesirable on-street parking and would create serious traffic congestion on the adjoining narrow streets.”
The inspector, Kevin Moore, claimed the failure of the proposed guesthouse to provide any parking facilities would add to the existing serious problem of a lack of public parking spaces in Kinsale. Mr Moore claimed the facility was “unsustainable in isolation of any meaningful firm proposal to provide for parking needs.”
The inspector argued the council was avoiding the issue by maintaining that the demand for parking spaces by users of the existing shop was equal or greater than would be for the guesthouse as well as requesting a financial contribution from the developer.
He claimed it was “disconcerting” that the council did not appear to have any plans to address the existing traffic problems in Kinsale which would be “compounded” by the development of the guesthouse.
Mr Moore also sharply criticised the council for appearing to have ignored the issues raised by Mr O’Neill in his submission. “This disregard of third-party submissions is most regrettable in my opinion,” said Mr Moore.
However, An Bord Pleanála said the proposed three-storey development was compatible with the form and character of the Kinsale Architectural Conservation Area and would not seriously injure the amenities of the neighbouring properties.
The board said it rejected its inspector’s recommendation because it said the policies of the current Cork County Development Plan did not normally require car parking facilities to be provided for small-scale infill developments in town centres.
Mr O’Neill, who runs the Tap Tavern with his mother, Mary, had expressed concern that guests using the new facility would object to the long-standing traditional music sessions hosted in the pub including its back courtyard in the summer because of noise.
The publican said the Tap Tavern had been in his family since 1886 and was recognised as one of the best examples of a classic Irish “local”.
While the playing of music in the pub had never been an issue and was allowed up to closing time in the courtyard, Mr O’Neill expressed fear that the position would be changed irrevocably if his premises were going to be surrounded by tourist accommodation.
“We fear that sleeping accommodation placed directly over the courtyard area will inevitably lead to complaints from guests and ultimately challenges to the renewal of our licence,” he observed.
Mr O’Neill said he believed such a conflict was “inevitable.” He claimed any ban on the playing of music in the pub’s courtyard could have a detrimental impact on his family’s livelihood, while also expressing concern about a loss of sunlight in his premises as a result of the new development.
The Kinsale Union of Parishes Select Vestry had also expressed concern that construction work on the proposed guesthouse could affect the structural stability of a boundary wall between the development and St Multose Church.
However, the developer said the new development was on a smaller scale to a 13-bedroom guesthouse which had been rejected by both the council and An Bord Pleanála in 2020 and was designed to minimise its impact on St Multose Church and the Kinsale Architectural Conservation Area.
Mr O’Mahony said his design team had also gone to some lengths to address the pub’s concerns by ensuring no guest bedrooms overlooked the pub’s courtyard and he believed the issue about the renewal of the pub’s music licence was “unfounded.”