Claim hotel extension may impede Liberties’ Grotto

by Gazette Reporter
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By Rose Barrett

A petition against an appeal to An Bord Pleanála (ABP) for additional bedrooms to a hotel in the Liberties is gaining momentum.

On behalf of ‘Friends of the Grotto,’ local resident and business man Noel Fleming raised the petition and by Tuesday last, signatures had reached over 1,750 online with almost as many hard copy signatures.

“As you can see from the response on social media to the appeal, this has caught the imagination of the public in the Liberties and overseas,” said Mr Fleming.

“I am just one voice of many promoting the petition. We all love the Liberties,” he added.

The petition reads: “We, the Friends of the Meath Street Grotto, ask that ABP uphold DCC’s decision to refuse planning permission for 4017/20, the 21 bed extension to the Molyneux Hotel that now extends to the boundary wall of The Grotto.

“This proposed extension would be visually overbearing and obtrusive and seriously injure the character, setting and tranquillity of our Grotto.”

Originally built as a dedication to those who died in the Great Wars, the petition describes the Meath St grotto as “a spiritual sanctuary … essential to the wellbeing and mental health of the community… used by all ages and creeds from all social classes.”

Midsal Homes Ltd got planning permission in August last for a 244 bed hotel (DCC 4262/19) but are now appealing directly to ABP (PL29S.309781) for 21 additional bedrooms.

However, Frank Gilmer, MD of Salamisso Developments told the Dublin Gazette he is surprised by the petition/campaign against the appealed extension this week.

“Firstly, the extension proposed is staggered back from one to four storeys high, not eight storeys.

“We’ve stepped the side of the hotel (northern end) at least 6 metres from the boundary wall so that the grotto will retain its privacy.

“My family hails from Maryland, just around the corner and my own grandmother prayed at that grotto.

“We are deeply invested in the area, and are developing several residential, retail and office developments within the region. We built up very good relationships with local residents’ associations, whom we found to be pro-active and understanding.

“However, there was ongoing anti-social behaviour in the area and we’ve worked with Dublin City Council and Kevin St Garda Station to monitor and tidy up Molyneaux Laneway.”

Mr Gilmer appealed to residents to view the full plans.

Joyce Reid who lives in Catherine Street, works at the mass office in the grotto.

“I think people are anxious that the hotel development does not interfere with the sanctuary aspect of the grotto. 

“It’s a place where people stop before going to court or the hospital, and come in to pray for special intentions, for sorrow or for thanksgiving.

“Things are happening in our area very quickly, so something will go onto that development site, if it’s not this hotel, it will be another student accommodation or shared accommodation which is worse. What we really need is social housing.

The case is due to be decided in late July 2021. PL29S.309781 entails lands at Molyneux Yard, Engine Alley and the site to the rear of 83 Meath Street.

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