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The Prism building proposed for Clontarf Street.
The Prism building proposed for Clontarf Street.
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An Taisce: Prism skyscraper would set 'unfavourable' precedent 

An Taisce has explained its reasons for objecting to the planned Prism skyscraper in Cork city centre, saying it would impact on protected views and set an ‘unfavourable precedent’ for tall buildings on the central island.

Last month, Cork City Council granted planning permission for the 15-storey building yards from Parnell Place bus station but An Taisce Cork has appealed the decision to An Bord Pleanála.

In a letter to the planning body, An Taisce laid out five grounds for the appeal, which mainly focus on the fact that the building contravenes the City’s own guidelines. An Taisce says plans for the commercial building at Parnell Place are contrary to the height guidelines in the Cork City Development Plan (CCDP) 2015-2021, which specifically states that tall buildings should be avoided on the city centre island and along the north and south river channels.

If built according to current plans the building would include 6,000 sq m of offices when finished. The glass-fronted triangular building was designed by Reddy Architecture + Urbanism and modelled after the world famous Flatiron in New York.

In addition to its office space, plans include a rooftop terrace for staff, as well as a glass canopy, which would oversail Deane Street at third flood level. From the third floor up, the offices would overhang the street by approximately two metres.

The Prism building on Clontarf Street.
The Prism building on Clontarf Street.

An Taisce said the building would have ‘multiple adverse impacts on a range of protected CCDP views, on prospects and settings of significant heritage buildings and nearby protected structures, and on the skyline of the city generally’.

An Taisce said it was concerned that ‘this proposal was granted planning without taking due account’ of planning reports.

Previously, Deputy Chief Executive Pat Ledwidge acknowledged the issue of building height but disagreed with the recommendation of a senior planner who said the development should be refused permission.

"The substantive issues underpinning the recommendation for refusal relate to the height of the proposed structure," Mr Ledwidge said.

"Whereas paragraph 16.34 of the development plan states that 'The City Council has identified Dockland and South Mahon as areas with potential to accommodate high buildings' and that they will be resisted in other areas, this does not constitute a total prohibition."

"I consider that tall buildings can be accommodated in other locations in exceptional circumstances."

The appeal will take at least 18 weeks for An Bord Pleanála to decide and led to criticism from the construction sector.

“All of our members are reporting significant delays in securing permissions,” Conor O’Connell, regional director for the Construction Industry Federation (CIF) Southern Region, said. “The growth in the number of objections is very disappointing. Cork is aiming for a 50% growth in development in the coming years. Cork city is changing, it is happening.

“We cannot allow this economic growth to be thwarted by serial objections.”