Hammerson, a UK property group, and Irish Life, an insurance group, were denied permission to open a 24-hour casino in the Ilac Shopping Centre in Dublin.
The centre is co-owned by the two parties and in summer, they petitioned the City Council to convert a vacant retail unit, which previously housed clothing brand Jack & Jones, into a two-storey casino with ancillary “family entertainment”. Expo was selected to operate the venue.
However, in September Dublin City Council voted that the casino didn’t fit the intended land-use designated in the development plan: “There are serious concerns that permitting a casino at this location would be setting a precedent for such a non-retail use within Category 1-designated streets, the primary shopping streets in the city centre.”
Hammerson and Irish Life then appealed the Council’s decision to An Bord Pleanála, the national planning appeals board.
Applicants argued that a casino would help with the viability of the shopping complex and help offset the strain on the retail market. Retail destinations have been greatly impacted by the pandemic, and for the first quarter of the year, Hammerson collected only 31% of rent in Ireland.
But An Bord Pleanála rejected the appeal, arguing that it was difficult to justify such use of the mall’s venue.
The planning inspector noted: “It is as likely in my opinion to be problematic for Coles Lane as it is to be a benefit, either in daytime or in the evening. I do not consider that a case has been made to change the use from either retail or restaurant use as previously permitted.”