Is Merchant’s Arch to be demolished?

Merchant’s Arch, courtesy of Wiki Commons.

Geneva Pattison

This week the news emerged about the shocking decision to demolish the iconic Merchant’s Arch area in Temple Bar and building a new hotel in it’s place.

People were outraged, voicing their opinions online and signing an Uplift petition which now has over 45,000 signatures. But what’s really going on?

The proposed development of the Merchant’s Arch area, will include the demolition of several shops along the laneway. In it’s place will be a new boutique hotel and restaurant, apparently, the memorable 1821 archway will stay intact.

The plans had been opposed by the planning board’s own director previously and concern had been raised by former Irish Times environment editor Frank McDonald. Despite this, Dublin City Council decided to grant permission.

As reported by the Journal, Tom Doone, owner of the Merchant’s Arch Pub was granted a green light for the development earlier in the year. The buildings from 1-4 Merchant’s Arch will be the ones in question to go.

The new hotel will be a three storey over ground floor and basement build. The restaurant will be located on the ground floor and basement, while the upper floors will be for the hotel rooms. Public access through Merchant’s Arch will still be allowed after the hotel is built.

This new development will not involve removing the Archway at all, but will considerably alter the appearance of the historical structure. The Arch itself is protected under the historical structures list by the DCC. People can view the plans, which are available on the DCC website and will be linked below.

From the Merchant’s Arch Development Plans, courtesy of DCC.

An Taisce raised various points in the inspector’s report on the topics of history, inappropriate monopolising for the space in question, and tourist values, stating:

” The submission notes the location of the protected structure Merchant’s Hall adjacent to the site, and part of the same holding. The submission raises a number of concerns in regard to the proposal as follows:

– Notes the previous refusal by ABP for a 5-storey building on the site, having been reduced to 4 storeys by the Planning Authority (ABP ref: 305942-19 (PA ref 3164/19) refers).

– The proposed development is contrary to the ABP decision which stated that the subject plot is insufficiently wide to accommodate a building greater than 3 storeys.

– Issues raised in relation to the proposed restaurant use as it would create the conditions for the potential seeking of licenced use and potentially transforming the bar in Merchant’s Hall into a superpub.

– Both the PA and the Board previously refused permission to link the Merchant’s Bar to the site under ABP ref 301816-18 (PA ref 2547/18)

– The retention of small shop units is favoured at this location as being appropriate to the location and contributing to the tourist attraction of the area and which would have regard to the narrowness and intimacy of the historic, granite-flagged lane, a key north – south pedestrian route.

It is requested that permission be refused.”

View the Uplift petition for Merchant’s Arch below.

View the plans through the link below.

View the Inspector’s report through the link below.

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