The Glasson Lakehouse hotel.

Glasson Lakehouse says revamp will have 'negligible' traffic impact

Hotel responds to council's request for more information on major redevelopment plans

The owner of the Glasson Lakehouse hotel has responded to Westmeath County Council's request for more detail and clarification on several aspects of its multi-million euro revamp plans.

Last December, council planners raised concerns about a number of elements of the planned redevelopment works at the hotel, some of which had already been carried out by that stage.

The former Glasson Country House Hotel and Golf Club was purchased by developer Paddy McKillen Jr's Oakmount company in 2019.

The hotel has applied to the council for the retention of certain works undertaken at the Lough Ree-adjacent site, while permission is being sought for other developments including a new banqueting room, a gym, seven additional hotel bedrooms, 19 eco cabins, a five-bedroom house on site for the owner and his family, and a new golf clubhouse.

A number of reports were submitted on behalf of the developer this month in response to the council's further information request last December.

As part of this, the hotel supplied a traffic and transport assessment which had been prepared on its behalf by NRB Consulting Engineers.

It said this showed the proposed development would have "an absolutely negligible impact" on local traffic, and could "easily" be accommodated on the existing road network "without any capacity concerns arising."

Increase in employment

The hotel indicated the proposed revamp would bring an increase in employment, saying its full and part-time staff numbers had already trebled since the lifting of Covid restrictions, from 40 employees to 120.

It hoped the number of staff would increase to 200 when "the proposed works outlined in this application are complete," adding that this would involve an average annual wage bill of some €3 million.

"As the quality of the hotel accommodation is improving, so too will the level of expenditure which we hope will benefit further the local economy," said a report submitted on behalf of the applicant, Glasson Golf and Country Club Ltd.

The council's request for further information last year asked the developer to respond to concerns about "the design, location and scale" of 24 eco cabins which were being proposed on the "visually sensitive" site.

Responding on behalf of the hotel, Dublin-based Manahan Planners indicated the number of proposed cabins had since been reduced, and it was now seeking permission for 19 cabins, and retention for one additional cabin.

It said 14 of the 20 cabins would be situated to the north of the hotel, and contended that this this location was "not a visually sensitive area."

It also said the cabins were of the "minimal viable size and height" and the use of natural timber cladding would help reduce their visual impact.

'Significant excavation' on site

The council noted last year that "significant excavation works" had taken place at the site of the hotel's proposed new banqueting hall, and that a "small children's play pond" had also been constructed, which had involved some excavation.

The amount of material excavated in these works was not clear, the council said, and it asked the developer to outline the extent of the excavation and any potential ecological impact it might have had.

Manahan Planners said it was estimated that 2,780 square metres of earth had been excavated, roughly two-thirds of which had been at the location for the banqueting hall.

It said the excavated soil had not been moved off the site but had been re-used on the golf course and "to create the terracing to the south of the hotel."

The golf club reception was initially due to consist of a 57 square metre prefabricated timber structure, but the council said this was "not befitting" of the "prominent and sensitive" site.

In response, the developer said it was now proposing to develop the golf club reception as "a new larger building of approximately 100 sq metres" which would have locker rooms, showers, toilets, a reception desk and an equipment shop.

'New access road' query

In December, the council queried the building of "a new access road" from the hotel to the lakeshore and marina, which it said "did not feature in the description of the development," and had not been the subject of an ecological assessment.

The owner's response described this route as "an internal pathway between the hotel and the lake" which was within the hotel's private grounds and was "not a road connected to the public highway."

The council had also stated that the "jetty/marina" adjoining the site "does not have the benefit of planning permission," but the developer's response said this had been "in situ for a number of decades" and that an application for its retention was therefore not required.

An outdoor cinema operated at the hotel site "without planning permission" the council said last year, but the hotel replied that this had been a "pop-up" feature to comply with Covid health guidelines at the time, and it was no longer on site.

Proposed owner's house

Regarding the proposed 'owner's house', local resident Michael Hopkins made a submission to the council last year saying he and others had been refused permission by the council for houses in the area and he expected similar standards to apply in respect of this application.

Responding, Meehan Planners said it believed the applicant met the "local housing needs" requirement of the Westmeath County Development plan, and it added that a legal opinion from Jarlath Fitzsimons, Senior Counsel, had been enclosed as part of its response.

The planning consultants concluded by saying the applicant was willing to meet the council on site "and walk through all the items" for which retention or planning permission was being sought.

It asked the local authority to grant permission "for this welcome and appropriate development."

The council is due to make its decision on the application by July 4.