JULY was a hugely busy month in the city as commercial construction and housing development announcements ramped up significantly in Cork.
News of two significant projects on the docklands at Albert Quay will play a large part in the redevelopment of the area.
The south docklands could be transformed after O’Callaghan Properties reached a conditional agreement to purchase 31 acres of land for €47.5 million.
The site is zoned for urban development and is being disposed of by agri-services group Origin Enterprises.
It includes several of Cork city’s best-known buildings, including the R&H Hall grain silos and the red-brick Odlums building.
Councillors have already called for the site to be considered for a hospital and housing.
Just a few hundred metres away, planning documents for a 200-apartment tower block at Albert Quay have been lodged with An Bord Pleanála.
The 25-storey tower is to be built on the site of the former Sextant Bar.
Progressive Commercial Construction Ltd, part of the John Cleary Developments group, has requested a consultation from the planning board under the Strategic Housing Development scheme which allows developers to bypass local authorities for large-scale housing projects exceeding 100 homes.
The proposed development of 200 build-to-rent apartments will include demolition of the Sextant and the reuse and renovation of two protected structures.
The case is set to be decided by September 26.
John Cleary said of the plans when they were launched in June that it has been a dozen years since a large-scale apartment project was undertaken in the city centre.
“We are very excited to be progressing this proposed residential scheme given the constant feedback we are receiving from our multinational clients in relation to their concerns at the lack of suitable residential accommodation available for their employees,” he said.
“Given the ongoing momentum we are witnessing in the office sector, should the residential schemes not be brought forward, the ongoing development of the city centre will be compromised.”
These developments will be complemented by projects north of the river such as the HQ development at Horgan’s Quay which will include a 136-bed hotel, 230 apartments, almost 37,000 sqm of office space and 2,285 sqm of retail and restaurant space on a 6.1-acre site. This will be located next to the €125 million Penrose Dock office block which includes some 76,200 square metres of offices in two buildings.
In Bishopstown, almost 230 homes could be built after a consultation request was sought from An Bord Pleanála for a development under the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) scheme.
Prospective applicants Jim Luby and Tom Rogers have registered a consultation request for 115 houses and 112 apartments, a creche and associated works at Garranedarragh with the planning authority.
SHD allows developers to apply directly to An Bord Pleanála for schemes of more than 100 units and bypass local councils in order to fast-track the planning process.
An extension of an original planning application had been made to Cork County Council for more than 252 houses in December 2015 at the 20-acre site. The original scheme was for 133 houses and 119 apartments.
Nearby, hundreds of homes may be built in Sunday’s Well.
The red brick St Kevin’s Hospital, overlooking Lee Road, is now in the ownership of the Land Development Agency after it was put up for sale by the HSE for €2.95m. Details of the deal to acquire the 14-acre site have not been made available.
The LDA was established last year with the promise it would build 150,000 homes over 20 years using State land.
The agency is expected to brief city councillors this autumn on the details of its plans for the St Kevin’s site.
North of this site, a housing and mixed-use development in Farranferris has finally started work eight years after planning was originally granted.
Almost 80 homes are to be built at the former St Finbarr’s Seminary on Redemption Road and grounds along with three educational buildings.
Planning permission for a 90-home development was originally granted in September 2011 but nothing had happened on the site for several years. The original permission included restoration, conservation and use of the protected structure of the former Farranferris Seminary Building, a creche and retail elements.
Almost 115 car parking spaces and a new entrance via Lovers Walk are also included.
An Bord Pleanála recently recommended the site be placed on the Vacant Sites Register after an appeal by Cork City Council.
The site, owned by the Cork Diocesan Trustees was recently taken over by Citidwell Homes who have already begun work on the grounds.
Local councillor Kenneth Collins said the development is a chance for local people to buy homes in an area where supply is at a premium.
“They are private houses with a 10% social housing element. I welcome this as this is a private development on the northside and we should have more of these to entice people living on the northside of the city to purchase because our growing community is being pushed to places like Mallow and Carrigtwohill because they couldn’t afford to buy in their own area,” said Mr Collins.
“This will allow a significant amount of people the chance the stay in their own community and that’s good news.
“There are also educational buildings going in and I would be hoping UCC might have a presence and Gaelscoil Peig Sayers would get a building because it is 30 years without a permanent home,” added Mr Collins.
Elsewhere in the northside, more than 50 new homes are to be built in the Boyce’s Street/Upper Cattle Market Street housing redevelopment on the northside of the city. They are replacing the 44 homes currently there, many of which are not fit for purpose, or are derelict.
Residents have been campaigning for the redevelopment of the area since the late 1980s. The design of the current housing scheme, accessed by narrow laneways from Blarney Street, was blamed for anti-social behaviour and vandalism.
A former office block on the Blackrock Road will become a €10m gated community for residents looking to downsize their homes under plans approved by Cork City Council.
Springville House will be adapted into a 35-unit residential project consisting of three-bedroom, two-bedroom, and one-bedroom apartments with a live-in caretaker.
The apartments will be integrated into the existing office building — a first for Cork city in a public housing project.
It is expected work will begin in late this year with residents moving in early to mid-2021.
The project aims to help people in social housing or in private homes that are no longer at full capacity to downsize and free these properties up to those on the social housing list.
City Hall director of housing Brian Geaney said the units will be managed by an approved housing body.
There was widespread disappointment at the latest delay in planning for the event centre.
It’s nearly three-and-a-half years since the sod was turned on the South Main Street the project, but it remains stuck in the planning process and suffered yet another delay this week. City Hall planners have asked developers Bam to return with a report on the potential impact of the development on two conservation areas in Cork Harbour and have given them six months to complete it.
Even if Cork City Council grant permission after the latest round of requested extra information, any decision could be appealed to An Bord Pleanála by the developers or by anyone who made submissions on the plans meaning further delays are a possibility.