Dublin Bay South | The Central Hotel, Rí-Rá, the Globe & Library Bar

7 August 2020

Ivana Bacik

Observations on the planning application at: The Central Hotel, Nos 1-5 Exchequer Street and Nos 11, 14, 15 & 16 South Great George’s Street and No. 12 Dame Court, Dublin 2

Planning Reference: 2974/20

Dear Sir/Madam,

As a public representative living in the South Inner City, I would like to object to the planning application for the proposed expansion of the Central Hotel (Ref: 2974/20). This development would be in my view, in contravention of the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022.

The developer intends to demolish parts of the Globe bar, Rí-Rá nightclub and the Library Bar, to expand the Central Hotel. This would be a retrograde step, which would remove another Dublin City late-night venue.

I am concerned that the expansion and construction of hotels currently underway in Dublin City is at the expense of important recreational areas, which attract visitors and Dubliners alike.

Diversity of developments in a Z5 (City Centre) Zone:

  • The site of the proposed development is in a Z5 (City Centre) Zone, for which Dublin City Council’s (DCC) strategy is to provide a dynamic mix of uses which sustain the vitality of the inner city both by day and night, as per the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022.
  • According to the Irish Times (100 new hotels for Dublin: Is that too many – or too few? 08.02.20), there were 100 hotel developments and 49 expansions to existing hotels under construction or planned in Dublin in February 2020. There are approximately 2,620 hotel rooms which have recently come on stream or are expected to come on stream located within a 1km radius of the proposed development, according to my Labour colleague, Cllr Darragh Moriarty’s calculations.
  • Permission for many of these new developments is granted at the expense of recreational and cultural amenities, such as the Tivoli Theatre on Francis Street, Andrew’s Lane Theatre (home to Hangar nightclub) on Andrew’s Lane and the Bernard Shaw pub on South Richmond Street. Should this trend continue, it will become increasingly challenging to meaningfully sustain vitality in the region at night and the range of facilities for the area will become increasingly homogenous and inaccessible to those living in Dublin. Dublin’s Inner City is at capacity for hotels; new developments must not encroach on existing cultural and social amenities.

Amenities for young people:

  • According to the Development Plan, it is DCC policy to promote and support a vibrant night culture in the City Centre that attracts a diverse range of cultural activity and is attractive for a wide range of age groups (CHC41 page 207).
  • The ‘Your Dublin Your Voice’ 2020survey revealed that 73% of Dubliners rate Dublin’s nightlife as either somewhat or extremely poor. While I believe that there are compelling arguments to be made for diversifying the range of nighttime activities on offer in the City Centre, removing pub and dancefloor spaces will actively worsen what has already been described as a poor situation. This will particularly affect young people who frequent nightclubs and who overwhelmingly cited cost as a prohibitive factor when it comes to enjoying the nighttime economy, according to the surve

Dublin’s distinctive identity and promoting talent:

  • It is DCC policy to support the branding of the city region as an internationally competitive, cultural and creative city that attracts investment and talent, based on Dublin’s distinctive identity, according to the Development Plan (page 242).
  • An absence of dancefloors and late-night music venues invariably results in artists and entertainers finding that there is nowhere for them to perform, which will have a deleterious effect on the music industry as well as damaging the cultural life of Ireland’s capital; the Give Us The Night campaign has been vocal in warning of the unsustainability of working conditions for those in the music industry, partly resulting from the closure of dance venues, such as Rí-Rá.
  • Should hotel developments continue to necessitate the closure of such important music venues, a cultural access divide will emerge, wherein those with the means to consume and work in high-arts will be served by the city but not others, who rely on a nightclubs, instead. DCC must take action to uphold its own commitments to encourage and promote cultural activities of different types and to attract talent to the city.
  • The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the vulnerability of Dublin’s hospitality sector. At present, many Dublin hotels lie virtually empty due to the decimation of Ireland’s international tourism industry. With overseas visitors accounting for up to 80% of Dublin’s pre-pandemic tourism mix, as opposed to the range of 52%-65% attributed to the south, mid-west and western regions by Fáilte Ireland, it is clear that the domestic market, which will be so important to the industry’s recovery is not currently catered for; Dublin has an excess of rooms available for international visitors who are unlikely to return for the foreseeable future. What is needed in the Inner City is a diverse range of amenities. I am not opposed to the development of hotels in principle, but I have grave concerns about the closure of cultural and recreational institutions to facilitate these developments.

To borrow a phrase from a petition launched to oppose this particular development, which has collected over 1,000 signatures in a week, the Globe, Rí-Rá and the Library Bar “have become iconic institutions on Georges street [sic]. Dublin is a progressive and thriving city and that's a positive thing but these spaces have historical and cultural significance to locals and visitors alike and should not be replaced by yet another sterile, soulless hotel for tourists. If we keep chipping away at the soul of the city there will be nothing left worth visiting.”

I urge you to consider the importance of maintaining a vibrant city for everyone during your deliberations.

Yours Faithfully,

Ivana Bacik