CITY Hall has categorically ruled out footing the bill for the demolition of a property on North Main Street with a report on the issue to be delivered to councillors on Monday.
The Echo understands that the demolition of 62, 63, and 64 North Main St, following the partial collapse of number 63, will now be delayed for several weeks or even months as legal complications hold up work.
It had been hoped the demolition could be completed as early as the end of this week after a report from the owner's engineer recommended it. However, one trader leasing a unit has challenged this with an independent report that suggests number 63 can be saved.
Despite this, contractors Loftus Demolition remain on-site carrying out work to secure the premises and have not been given any instructions from the building’s owners to leave but no timeline has been decided on when vehicular traffic restrictions on the street will be lifted. A demolition licence has not yet been issued.
Businesses remain open on the street and pedestrians still have full access.
Following meetings between City Hall’s finance directorate and councillors, it had been suggested the local authority may have to come up with funds to pay for the demolition and seek reimbursement from the owner at a later date.
However, this has now been ruled out and city council chief executive Ann Doherty will present members with a report on the matter this Monday.
Councillor Ken O’Flynn (FF) said national legislation on derelict sites means there is very little Cork City Council can do.
“There are problems but the owners are in discussions with Cork City Council. There is no indication whatsoever from City Hall that it will assume responsibility for private property. The number one concern for the city council has to be the safety of citizens.
“One of the serious problems we have as a city council is that the Derelict Sites Act needs to be changed and we need a constitutional change on the rights to the property. We do not have, as a city council, the same rights to property as local authorities in other European countries such as Spain.
“City Hall will absolutely not foot the cost of demolition. The situation of derelict sites needs to be dealt with at an Oireachtas level,” he added.
Meanwhile, the Green Party has called for urgent clarification on whether the buildings will be razed or not to minimise disruption to local businesses.
Councillor Dan Boyle said: "I appreciate this is a difficult situation but having a demolition company in situ waiting for a licence is worrying for many people who appreciate the heritage value of these buildings. The best result would be forcing the owners to better secure these buildings."