UNIVERSITY College Cork expanded its footprint into the city in 2019 and its president said the college is looking forward to helping provide a “shot in the arm” for the city centre in 2020.
The emphasis is firmly being placed on helping to rejuvenate the city centre with two major projects in the offing on the city’s quays at Union Quay and North Mall.
UCC opened a centre for executive education in the former Cork Savings Bank building on Lapp’s Quay late last year.
The university went on to announce plans to develop a new school, which will accommodate close to 4,000 students and 200 staff, on a site close to South Mall and Patrick Street.
UCC will base the new school on the Trinity Quarter site — a 1.46 acre site situated between Copley Street and South Terrace and fronting on to Union Quay.
Speaking to The Echo, Professor Patrick O’Shea, said: “It’s been a big year in 2019.
“We opened the new location at the Savings Bank and that is going really well.
“It’s a highlight of the city centre,” he added.
“We’re also moving ahead with the business school and we’re establishing the design team and liaising with the local community to ensure we’re engaging them in the process.
“Construction won’t begin until around 2022 as there’s a lot of work to do before that.”
Professor O’Shea explained that the hope behind a lot of the projects is that UCC can revitalise Cork’s city centre.
“The reason we’re doing a lot of this is so we can help revitalise the centre of the city.
“It’s very important to see that happen,” he said. We’re hoping to be a shot in the arm for the city.”
Professor O’Shea also revealed that UCC’s Tyndall Institute has plans to develop a campus across the river into the Distillery Fields in future.
“That will be a very important development,” he said.
“It’s another step to creating a coherent, in-town campus.
“We have the heritage campus, the architecture school which has been up and running for two years — you can really see the positive impact of UCC in the city and across Cork through these various campuses.
“The Student Hub is almost finished as well and the furniture is going in so we’re expecting to have an opening ceremony for that in the near future.”
President O’Shea also revealed that the university will be moving ahead with plans to redevelop its sports grounds.
UCC announced plans earlier this year for its new sports park at Curraheen as it launched a strategy for its 55 clubs.
The new facilities will replace the current sports grounds at The Farm on Curraheen Road.
The new park will include a 1,800m running track a 1,300m inner walk, grass and synthetic playing pitches, and a synthetic hockey pitch, along with 297 parking spaces.
It will also include a pavilion to house changing rooms and meeting/dining areas and ancillary structures for equipment and maintenance storage.
The Farm will eventually form part of the planned science and innovation park which has been in the works for more than a decade and is hoped to have the potential to create at least 1,000 jobs by 2028 and up to 6,000 when it is fully developed.
“We’ll be moving forward with our sports strategy in Curraheen,” said Professor O’Shea.
“The Mardyke is 300 years old — people have been playing down there long before UCC.
“There’s just not enough room,” he added.
“We only have one all-weather pitch down there and the GAA pitch is seeing well over 200 games a year.
“So the Curraheen project becomes the next step to cater for this expansion to facilitate excellence in sport.”
UCC also recently received planning permission for a proposed dental hospital at Curraheen.
“It’s a very busy time for the university,” said Professor O’Shea.
“We’re not expanding the number of students but we’re keen to offer the best facilities to them.
“We have the smallest land area per student of any of the major universities,” he added.
“I always say that we graduate more students per acre than anybody else but just like cattle, there’s a point where that ceases to be a virtue.
“These developments are an important part of UCC’s future.”