Plan to build staff accommodation at Powerscourt Hotel is appealed to An Bord Pleanála

The Powerscourt Hotel.

Bray People

A proposed development at Powerscourt Hotel Resort and Spa has received a set back after a planning appeal against the granting of the permission was lodged with An Bord Pleanala.

Powerscourt Hotel had received planning approval last month to build a new 56-bed staff accommodation complex to help it attract staff amid the current housing crisis.

In the submission to Wicklow County Council, planners for Powerscourt said it was “exasperated” by the current housing crisis and the availability of affordable housing near Powerscourt in Enniskerry leading to difficulties in attracting prospective employees. The issues had meant the hotel had turned its attention to recruiting from “close haul European markets” such as Spain and Greece, supplemented by people from Brazil and “more recently Ukraine”.

The document said these staff required accommodation to be provided, adding staff shortages in the industry would be “prevalent for the medium to long term”.

Planners for Powerscourt wrote that currently some hotel rooms are occupied by staff, which was lowering revenue.

According to the submission, the development will have 29 rooms and 56 beds, with each unit sized at 17.5 sq m. It will also include a common room and kitchen for those staying there.

In a letter outlining the planning approval conditions, Wicklow County Council said Powerscourt must before development begins enter into a legal agreement that the complex shall be used for “short-term staff accommodation purposes” only.

Following the planning application submission in June, Eamonn Casey, the general manager of Powerscourt Hotel, said that attracting staff had been more challenging in the current economic climate, citing increased rental costs and reduced availability.

He said the hotel employed more than 250 people, a large proportion of whom lived locally. However, many employees needed to relocate from elsewhere in Ireland or internationally to start positions.

However Scalaheen Limited, a company linked to the Slazenger family – owners of the Powerscourt Estate had objected to the council at the time.

The company, Scalaheen Limited, retained planning consultant Tom Phillips + Associates to file an observation, seeking the application be refused. The filing claimed the company behind the application, Wicklow Hotel Partnership, did not have “sufficient legal interest”.

Mr Philips and the company, Scalaheen Limited, have since appealed Wicklow County Council’s decision to grant the planning permission to An Bord Plealana.

The original objection said a lease signed in 2007 with Carrylane, the firm that developed the hotel, obliged tenants to “always maintain and operate” the premises as a five-star hotel. It also said it could not use any part of the hotel for any other purpose, or to make any structural or non-structural additions or alterations.

It claimed obligations were “being breached”, alleging the current use of hotel suites for staff was contrary to the terms of the hotel’s parent permission.

Scalaheen’s objection said the proposed accommodation was inappropriate, citing the size of the rooms and that 56 people could be sharing a single kitchen and common room.

A decision by An Bord Pleanala is due on January 3 next year.

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