Trinity “superpub” plans rejected by City Council

Dublin City Council have rejected planning permission sought by the College to convert the former Bank in Foster Place into one of Dublin’s largest pubs, it emerged last August.

The development involved converting the building’s Victorian Banking Hall into a “restaurant and public house”, according to the application lodged by the Provost, Fellows and Scholars of the University. The cost of submitting the proposed renovation to Dublin City Council was in excess of €15,000.

A total of seven buildings were put forward to Dublin City Council for conversion, including former banking buildings in Foster Place and Anglesea Street. The creation of a shop and 1,341sq m of licensed space was expected to provide significant revenue for the College, which has owned the buildings since the late 1990s.

Alterations to the buildings between Foster Place and Anglesea Street include the removal of a 19th Century banking vault and all subsequent additions to the structure in order to make way for new academic accommodation. It is understood the creation of administration offices, teaching rooms and study rooms is in response the shortage of space among the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences faculties.

The plan has received strong opposition since its proposal in June 2009 from both the Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT), a subsidiary of Dublin City Council, and members of the public. The Trust is aimed at maintaining Temple Bar as Dublin’s “Cultural Quarter”. It claims the creation of a “super-pub” would be contrary to its Urban Framework Plan, a 6-year old project designed to regenerate and encourage Temple Bar’s commercial success. The Plan says licensed premises such as the Foster Place development tend to create “an intimidating, aggressive and sometimes violent atmosphere” in the community.

The TBCT described the development as a “drinking gateway” linking College Green to Temple Bar, an area already renowned for its high instances of alcohol-related anti-social behaviour in Dublin. Its statement of opposition, drafted by Séan Harrison architects on behalf of TBCT, argues that “another licensed premises would further intensify this already critical mass of drinking establishments”.

According to the 2004 Urban Framework Plan, Trinity planned to convert the Banking Hall into a University Registration Hall, “effectively becoming Trinity’s front door”. The Buildings Office chose to create a restaurant and public house to be privately leased instead.

“It’s proximity to Temple Bar could lead to the more unsavoury aspects of late night revellers extending to this location”, says Gary Solan of Architectural Construction Technology. Mr Solan envisaged the transformation of Dublin into an alcohol-fuelled holiday resort comparable to Benidorm, which “got a name for cheap alcohol-fuelled holidays and stag and hen nights”.

In its rejection of the plans, the Council put forward a policy to “avoid an over-concentration of large pubs” describing it as “excessive” and “unacceptable”.
The building plans, designed by Moloney O’Beirne Architects, are described by Dublin City Council as a serious impact to the “character and integrity” of the buildings in Foster Place, which have a Protected Status.

Mr. Solan reported the drawing plans to Dublin City Council as “wholly inaccurate”, accusing the University of failing to provide basic provisions for parking, deliveries or waste removal.

The College is choosing not to contest the decision of Dublin City Council, whose appeal period expired earlier this month.

The University Press Officer Ms. Caoimhe Ni Lochlainn said the Buildings Office, responsible for architectural developments in College, are “considering the full decision of Dublin City Council with its design team”. Ms. Lochlainn stated the necessity for the College to “make full and efficient use of the buildings”, which have lain dormant for years.