Skyscraper a game changer for Cork city's skyline

Skyscraper a game changer for Cork city's skyline

G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie

AN Bord Pleanála has granted permission for 201 build-to-rent apartments to be constructed on the site of Carey Tool Hire and the former Sextant Bar, on Albert Quay.

It will see 93 one-bed apartments, 104 two-bed apartments, and four three-bed apartments in a building that ranges in height from eight to 11 to 24 storeys over ground floor.

The development will also see amenities installed such as a lounge area, library, workspace, meeting rooms, coffee dock, games room, cinema room, dining area, gym, a ground floor cafe, public plaza, two rooftop terraces and an internal residents’ amenity area on level 24.

Developers Progressive Commercial Construction Limited, who are part of the JCD Group, will also construct two basement levels, which will include 402 cycle spaces and 62 parking spaces.

The renovation of two protected structures forms part of this project with the two-storey former Cork, Blackrock and Passage railway offices, and the adjoining single-storey former Blackrock and Passage railway terminus ticket office, set to be retained.

G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie
G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie

Initially, they will be reused as a temporary construction compound for the proposed development, and then refurbished as part of the proposed development for a private rented office and for public bar/restaurant use.

The repair and restoration works will ensure the maximum amount possible of the surviving historic fabric will be retained, such as some structural elements, plasterwork and joinery of the two protected buildings.

Of the protected structures, JCD Group who are behind the development said: “There will be significant investment in these protected and historic structures to restore them to their former prominence. This investment will bring renewed vibrancy and ensure the long-term viability of these important buildings.”

The existing two-storey Carey Tool Hire building and the three-storey former Sextant public house are to be demolished.

In total, An Bord Pleanála received seven submissions on the development, five of which had overlapping concerns.

Computer generated images of the new Skycraper at the Sextant. Source: G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie
Computer generated images of the new Skycraper at the Sextant. Source: G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie

In a summary, the planning appeals board said some of the submissions cited issues concerning the visual impact of the project, some objected to the demolition of the Sextant, and said the development would set an undesirable precedent.

According to An Bord Pleanála’s report, one of the issues was that the development would be “visually obtrusive and overlook and seriously injure the amenities of the surrounding area and properties.”

“The treatment of the external facades are not sensitive to the adjacent heritage buildings,” was another of the issues raised, while there was also a concern the development “would compromise the civic, cultural and maritime value of Albert Quay.”

Two of the seven submissions were in favour of the development — one of which came from Cork Chamber — which said that the development was appropriate and that housing was needed in Cork City.

“High-quality residential development is essential to serve the office accommodation under construction in the area,” was cited as one of the positives in the submissions.

“The development will develop an underused strategic site and enhance the successful regeneration of the City Docklands,” the submission also stated.

A report submitted by Cork City Council’s chief executive says the elected members are generally in favour of the development, though they raised some concerns regarding the demolition of the Sextant pub and suggested consideration should be given to the retention of the façade.

Meanwhile, there were some questions over the adequacy of car parking provision, however, elected representatives acknowledged the proximity of the development to sustainable alternatives.

G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie
G-Net 3D, www.gnet.ie

There are more than 30 conditions attached to the planning — some of which include that the apartments will be long-term rentals only.

An agreement has also been put in place which states that the residential units will be used as rental accommodation for a minimum period of 15 years from the date of completion of the development, and no individual unit can be sold in the intervening period.

Another of the conditions is that works on the site are permitted to take place between 7am and 7pm Monday to Friday, and between 8am and 2pm on Saturdays, with no work permitted on Sunday.

JCD Group welcomed the granting of planning permission.

“The decision confirms the location as being appropriate for an iconic landmark building, while ensuring the appropriate conservation and restoration of the historic listed buildings on the site,” the group said.

The architects are Henry J Lyons with input from CityDesigner who have designed major high-rise schemes in London and Dublin.

“This investment will bring renewed vibrancy and ensure the long-term viability of these important buildings.,” the group added.

JCD Group has delivered over 850,000 sq ft of Grade A office space in Cork since 2008.

The company was behind other developments in the city such as One Albert Quay, The Capitol and 85 South Mall.

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