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Healy’s Hotel to be knocked

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PERMISSION  The old building known as Healy’s Hotel will now be demolished and replaced with a new structure.

Anton McNulty

The 19th century former Healy’s Hotel building in Pontoon is to be knocked and replaced with a new 14-bedroom hotel after An Bord Pleanála granted permission for the development.
The planned demolition of the historic building was delayed for almost a year after an appeal against the decision was lodged with An Bord Pleanála (ABP) in June 2018.
Mayo County Council granted planning permission to Pontoon Angler’s Hotel Ltd for the demolition of the 19th century building, located on the shores of Lough Cullin, to replace it with a new 14-bedroom hotel along with a bar, lounge and restaurant.
The existing building has been open to the public since the 1840s as a bar, hotel and restaurant and fishing lodge. Despite its long historic association with the area, the building was never listed on the Record of Protected Structures or the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage.
Part of the building was destroyed by fire in 2011 causing some structural damage and was placed on the market in 2015. It was purchased by Mayo-born businessman Michael Cusack and his business partner John Reddington.
An appeal to ABP was made by Brussels-based Éilis Healy, who had previously objected to the demolition of the building during the planning stage. She stated that the planned demolition of a building of ‘historic significance’ was ‘unwarranted’ and felt there was scope to bring the former structure back into reuse with ‘sensitive design and conservation techniques’.

‘Nostalgic sentiment’
In response the applicant stated that the appellant was focusing on ‘nostalgic sentiment’ and that the existing building has evolved in a ‘piecemeal manner’ from a single-storey 19th century structure, to a building that has lost its original character.
Mayo Council Council added that the the applicant made a compelling case for the demolition and replacement of the existing building, given the limited potential to harness a viable development opportunity within the confines of the existing building.
Addressing the concerns over the demolition of the building on architectural heritage grounds, Mr Colm McLoughlin, Planning Inspector with ABP stated that the applicant had showed ‘sufficient rationale’ in the application allowing for the demolition, and would not undermine the architectural heritage of the area.
Mr McLoughlin was also satisfied that the design of the proposed development would not detrimentally impact on the visual amenities of the area. He also ruled out that the development would lead to a risk of flooding of lands and would not have a negative impact on the ecological environment. Permission for the development was granted by the board of ABP subject to 16 conditions.