ONE of the most controversial development sites in the city has been taken off the market by its owners, it has been confirmed.
Estate agents Savills Cork confirmed to The Echo that the Good Shepherd convent has been withdrawn from sale five months after it was placed on the market.
The site is listed on Cork City Council’s Derelict Sites Register and is owned by Moneda Developments who purchased it for €1.5m and put it up for sale for €6.75m once planning permission for a housing development was secured.
Last November, An Bord Pleanála upheld a City Hall planning decision that allows for the construction of 182 apartments and 20 houses on the historic site but residents in the Sunday’s Well, Shanakiel and Blarney Street areas had objected on the grounds that local infrastructure could not support it.
The site is viewed as a strategic residential development opportunity due to its proximity to Apple headquarters in Hollyhill and the city centre.
The current population in the vicinity of the site is in the region of 600 people and residents fear this would more than double under the development plans.
Planning documents provide for the conservation of the convent, orphanage and Magdalene laundry buildings and their conversion into apartments.
It includes four and five-storey apartment blocks and a number of stand-alone buildings.
The grounds also contain the grave of Little Nellie, a child who died aged 4 in 1908, who was said to have the mystical gift of “discernment”, which meant that she instinctively knew the will of God.
Councillor Kenneth Collins has called on Moneda to either proceed with development or sell the site to Cork City Council so it can be developed for downsizing housing for the elderly.
“It’s time for the owners to take a decision whether they are going to develop it.
“Another option is for Cork City Council to purchase it under the regeneration remit and develop a gated community scheme for elderly people that want to downsize their homes. The massive housing development that was planned was not appropriate.
“I am calling on Cork City Council to compulsory purchase the site. Something has to happen but not at the scale that was planned by the private developer.
“The owners need to be put under pressure to either develop or sell. If they sell to the city council, the regeneration team from the Cork City Northwest Quarter Regeneration could take over and provide some sort of downsizing housing scheme which could include a memorial to the Magdalene graves,” Mr Collins added.