€300m building plans in play for leisure and hotels sector

Planning applications were lodged relating to 349 projects in the hotel and leisure sector in the last 12 months and if all of these were to be completed they could generate as much as €218m worth of building work, according to research by Construction Information Services (CIS).

The number of planning applications is lower than the 379 applied for in 2012 but, on the plus side, the value of the 2013 planning applications is higher than the €175m projects for which permission was sought in 2012.

The largest project on the CIS planning list is the Urbanest application to build a €36m mixed-use development including retail and leisure space as well as 313 student bedrooms on a site at Sir John Rogerson Quay and Windmill Lane, Dublin 2.

An Bord Pleanala recently refused planning permission for this project, despite it being backed by both Dublin City Council and An Bord Pleanala’s own inspector.

Explaining one of the reasons for its refusal, An Bord Pleanala advised that the buildings should include a more active street front along Windmill Lane and Creighton Street. This suggests that Urbanest may need to have more doors opening on to this street or perhaps more retail, leisure or own door units on these streets.

An Bord Pleanala also expressed concern that the scale of the project may affect the nearby residents.

The British-based accommodation developer is expected to refine its plans in order to meet rising demand as the numbers of overseas students looks set to increase substantially and the shortage of city centre accommodation is pushing up rents.

Planning permission was granted in 2013 for 245 hotel and leisure projects worth a combined €157m. This activity is below the 2012 level when 272 projects worth a combined €167m received the green light. If this lower trend were to continue it would slow down the level of construction work being undertaken in this sector.

However, since then a major hotel project got the green light from Dublin City Council. Southland Property Ltd, owned by Prague-based developerJonathan Jackson, has received the council’s support for a 143- bedroom hotel on Camden Street, which will transform eight properties into the new hotel. CIS has pencilled in a figure of €8.65m against the redevelopment costs.

Meanwhile, Tony Fernandes, owner of English football club QPR, has been waiting some time for Dublin City Council’s decision on his plans to develop a 170-bedrooOrmonde hotel on the site of the old Ormonde Hotel and two adjoining properties on Dublin’s north quays.

Costing about €12.9m, the part six-storey project will also include a new pub. Along with co-investor Lim Kian Onn, Fernandes bought the Dublin property for around €2m nearly a year ago, at a price which is some €15m less than the price Bernard McNamara paid for the hotel at the market peak in 2006.

Fernandes made the application through a company, Monteco Holdings, and he plans to operate it as part of the Tune hotel chain, providing a five-star service at budget prices.

An Bord Pleanala previously approved a 130-bedroom hotel for the Ormonde but the permission lapsed in 2009.

In Co Louth, a €5.4m expansion project is planned for Darvar Castle, at Readypenny, Dundalk. The Carville family are planning to offer increased facilities for its wedding guests. Currently the castle has 11 bedrooms and guests can also avail of two houses which are set on the 50 acres of parkland.

New work will include the addition of two bedroom blocks containing 26 bedrooms, a new restaurant, bar, kitchen and reception area as well as the conversion of existing buildings to a civil ceremony chapel.

Meanwhile, Lagan Construction are the contractors on the development of The Dean Hotel, in Harcourt Street, Dublin 2, which is being undertaken by Paddy McKillen’s May Holdings at an estimated cost of €3m.

The largest of the projects at the tender stage on the CIS list is the €22.5m project to convert the former Montrose Hotel to student accommodation.

Located just on the opposite side of the N11 facing UCD, the project will provide 190 student accommodation units as well as other student facilities.

Construction is expected to begin in the current quarter and be completed by around the end of this year.

It is being undertaken by Lonnegan Trading Company Ltd on behalf of the UK student accommodation specialist Ziggurat.

Leisure projects in the pipeline include the Dun Laoghaire Rathdown County Council’s €4m Samuel Beckett Civic Campus in Ballyogan, near The Park retail park, and a €1.7m refurbishment of the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin’s Liberties.

As many as 105 projects in the leisure and hotel sector, involving a combined investment of €128m, are currently on site. While the number of these is only 10 more than in 2012, the value of their work is almost three times the 2012 level which amounted to only €45m.

The most valuable of the leisure projects under way is the €3m redevelopment of Westport Town Hall where the town council is establishing a new cultural centre. Indeed government and local authorities are undertaking most of the leisure projects where work has commenced. Source: Irish Independent