The company behind Belfast’s Merchant Hotel claim their proposed €30m (£26m) venue in Dublin is being delayed because of a dispute over a laneway between the hotel and a Chinese restaurant, the Republic’s Commercial Court heard.
Cathedral Leisure Ltd, part of Beannchor Group in Northern Ireland, hopes to start work on the new four-star hotel on the former Boland’s Bakery site at Capel Street and Mary Street Little early next year.
Beannchor Group also owns Belfast’s Bullitt Hotel, as well as the luxury Merchant Hotel, as well as pizzeria chain Little Wing and a string of pubs.
Cathedral says that its plan for Dublin city centre could be delayed by a claim by the owners of number 27 Little Mary Street, Fergus McCabe and Brian Stynes, both of Ballyroan Crescent, Rathfarnham, Dublin.
The two men are landlords of number 27 which is used as the Bullet Duck and Dumplings restaurant and is operated by Sisu Entertainment and Fainne Entertainment. Xiao Hua Wen is a director of those companies and is a defendant in the action along with the companies and the landlords.
Mr McCabe and Mr Stynes say a doorway to the laneway has been in place since 1991, has been accessed over the years by people to come in and out of the rear of number 27, and forms part of the permission for the restaurant premises for preventing a fire hazard.
Cathedral has no right to block up the doorway and this amounts to trespass, they say.
In an affidavit seeking entry to the commercial list, Cathedral group finance director, James Sinton, said the company bought the site for €4.4m (£3.8m) in 2017 and the title documentation does not evidence any right of way or easement between the hotel and the restaurant building as alleged by the landlords.
The landlords, however, are asserting a right of way through the lane which Cathedral denies and says is an unlawful interference and trespass on its property.
Mr Sinton said this assertion could have a significant impact on the development and the entire design of the hotel may have to be revisited if such a right exists.
However, he says while there are valid rights of way relating to other properties which are being accommodated within the hotel development, the claims of the restaurant landlords are wholly disputed.
It is a matter of commercial urgency that this be determined as soon as possible as it could impact on the financing of the project, he said.
Mr Justice David Barniville admitted the case to the fast-track Commercial Court.