An Taisce has said plans to merge one of Dublin’s last remaining Victorian pubs, Bowe’s on Fleet Street, with the old Irish Yeast Co building, “a rare intact Georgian shop”, must be refused.
Capital Estate Management Ltd has applied to Dublin City Council to break through the back wall of Bowe’s into the Irish Yeast Co building on College Street, more than doubling the size of the pub, which has operated at the site since the 1850s.
Carlow businessman Declan Doyle , who owns Bowe’s, as well as Doyle’s pub on Fleet Street and a former Ladbrokes betting shop which is sandwiched between the two, last year bought the Irish Yeast Co shop. It is a protected structure, and its purchase brings the entire wedge-shaped block at the back of the Westin hotel into the ownership of the Doyle family.
In late 2014, the council refused permission for the expansion of Bowe’s into the adjoining betting shop on the grounds it would lead to an “overconcentration and intensification” of licensed premises on the block, and that it would not be appropriate conservation practice to break through the wall of the Victorian pub into the adjoining building.
The following year, Mr Doyle did secure permission to redevelop the betting shop building as a standalone cafe bar, but no development has taken place and the building remains vacant.
The new proposal involves installing toilets in the old Ladbrokes to serve Bowe’s, extending Bowe’s at ground level into the Irish Yeast Co building and into Ladbrokes, and reconfiguring the upper levels to enlarge the Times Hostel on Fleet Street. The hostel is controlled by Capital Estate Management Ltd.
The application notes Bowe’s and the Irish Yeast Co site were connected in the 1800s and operated as the College Hotel and Tavern. “The uses now proposed involve a return to these use types,” it states.
The council has referred the application to An Taisce, which said the proposal must not be granted permission.
“The proposals would, by the merging of the two protected structures Bowe’s and the Irish Yeast Co into one entity, diminish the legibility of the two buildings as separate historic structures,” An Taisce said.
The proposals “would, due to the loss of a retail unit at the Irish Yeast Co, erode the mixed-use function of the area and result in an overconcentration of public-house use in an area already compromised due to the extent of this use”.
The Irish Yeast Co building was a “rare intact late-Georgian shop and residence, part of a block developed by the Wide Streets Commissioners, with redbrick elevation and historic timber shopfront, and which remained in use until very recently”, An Taisce said.
The proposal to change the ground-floor use from retail to licensed premises would “set an undesirable precedent for mono-use functions on an important city-centre street, and would therefore be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”, it added.