DUBLIN - U2 MEGASTARS Bono and the Edge have won a green light for a controversial Dublin hotel project designed by renowned architect Norman Foster, they said on Thursday.
The Irish multi-millionaires have faced opposition from heritage campaigners over the proposed 150-million-euro (S$321 million) reconstruction project for The Clarence hotel, a protected building on the river Liffey waterfront.
But the Irish planning authority, the An Bord Pleanala, has now given it the go-ahead after a long consultation period, despite a planning inspector recommending the proposal be rejected.
'We are delighted that An Bord Pleanala has given us the green light for Norman Foster's design for The Clarence,' the U2 stars, the owners of the Clarence, said in a statement put out by the hotel.
'We believe it's great news for Dublin and for Temple Bar in particular, where we've been working for over 20 years and where a hotel has been trading on The Clarence site for 177 years.'
Planning inspector Kevin Moore concluded in his report that the proposed redevelopment would be 'seriously injurious to the visual amenities of the area, would conflict with the policies of the current Dublin City Development Plan, and would, thereby, be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.'
In the report, posted on An Bord Pleanala's website, Moore wrote that the project would create 'an incompatible landmark building within the terrace,' and would undermine 'the relatively coherent physical form and homogeneity' of the area.
The Clarence dates originally from 1852, but the rock stars took it over in the 1990s and extensively refurbished it as a five-star boutique hotel with 48 rooms and suites.
It has attracted visitors to the city such as former US president Bill Clinton and international rocks stars and supermodels.
Dublin City Council gave the go-ahead for the demolition of the Clarence and five neighbouring properties in the trendy Temple Bar area of Dublin that was regenerated over a decade ago as the city's 'Left Bank.' But heritage groups appealed against the move: An Taisce, Ireland's national trust, specifically questioned the developers' justification for the demolition on the basis of 'exceptional circumstance.'
'This is the largest and most problematic development affecting protected structures in Dublin for a decade,' said An Taisce's Heritage Officer Ian Lumley in December.
'We don't regard the demolition of the Clarence as exceptional or a national priority,' he added.
The promised new super-luxurious Clarence will have more than 140 bedrooms, a 'signature' restaurant and a rooftop 'Skycatcher atrium.' -- AFP