Belfast Telegraph

Merchant Hotel owner in planning row with rival hotel in Dublin

Bill Wolsey
Bill Wolsey

By Sean McCarthaigh

Developer Cathedral Leisure, part of Merchant Hotel owner Beannchor group, is locked in a planning row with a company which also wishes to develop a hotel in the Markets in Dublin.

Cathedral Leisure, which is led by Bill Wolsey, plans to develop a 62-bed hotel on the site of the former Boland's bakery and biscuit factory near Capel Street.

It's expected to be its second Bullitt Hotel after it launched the brand with a hotel in Belfast's Church Lane in 2016.

But Cathedral's plans are on hold pending an appeal to Irish planning body An Bord Pleanala.

Cathedral, meanwhile, has lodged an objection with Dublin City Council against the proposed development of a 278-bedroom hotel by Creekvale on the site of the existing Begley's Fruit Market on Arran Street East.

The proposed eight-storey building would have a maximum height of almost 28 metres. Ruby Hotels, a chain operating hotels in Germany and Austria, would operate it.

Cathedral says it plans to develop the Victorian bakery buildings, which are protected structures, into "a unique hotel experience".

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But Cathedral Leisure director James Sinton said Creekvale's proposed hotel would create an overbearing presence because of its height and scale.

"Our property will be severely and permanently compromised if the proposed development works are permitted," he said.

Cathedral is part of the Northern Ireland hotel group Beannchor, owner of the five-star Merchant Hotel in Belfast.

Its plans for the Boland's site have faced considerable objections, resulting in reductions to the number of proposed bedrooms from 98 to 62 and its height from 28 to 15 metres.

Among the objectors are Seskin Investments, a firm owned by the Begley family. The Begleys are fruit and vegetable distributors who own the site of the other proposed hotel.

Dublin City Council in August gave Cathedral's plans the go-ahead, but Creekvale has appealed that decision, arguing that the Boland's plan would have "a detrimental impact" on its own plans.

Consultants acting for Creekvale said its hotel - to include two restaurants and a bar - would have a positive impact and provide added footfall in "an underutilised part of the north inner city". They said a small stage in the hotel lobby would "showcase cultural talent".

Creekvale also faces opposition from Seamus Duignan, owner of The Hacienda Bar on Arran Street East.

He said the proposed Ruby hotel would surround his licensed premises and family home and be "overbearing" and "a genuine eyesore" that "invites a noisy and transitory atmosphere around our home".

An Taisce also criticises Creekvale's plans. It says the Fruit and Vegetable Market, a listed structure built in 1892, "deserves better than this drab and pedestrian" development.

In June last year, Beannchor officially announced plans to bring its Bullitt hotel concept to Dublin. But Beannchor developer Conall Wolsey first revealed in the plans to Business Telegraph sister publication Hospitality Review in 2017. He said: "Bullitt Dublin will be located at the north side of the river and will have the exact same style and theme.

"It will be a collection of buildings - a redevelopment that will give way to 100 rooms and have that feel with the ground floor connection that we have here," he added.

The Bullitt Hotel in Belfast's Church Lane has a wide-open lobby, bar and restaurant area on its ground floor.

Belfast Telegraph

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