City Hall set to relax planning guidelines to allow new pubs and restaurants on Patrick's Street

City Hall set to relax planning guidelines to allow new pubs and restaurants on Patrick's Street
Patrick's StreetPicture: Denis Minihane.

CITY HALL planners are set to relax guidelines that prevent new restaurants, cafes, and pubs opening on Patrick Street.

Currently, both sides of Patrick Street and the eastern side of Daunt’s Square, Opera Lane, and Winthrop Street are designated for retail outlets only, under the Cork City Development Plan 2015-2021.

The policy means restaurants, cafés and pubs are not generally allowed to open at ground level.

The strict guidelines were a key reason why Starbucks was forced to close its Patrick Street outlet last September after it opened without proper planning permission in 2015.

A relaxation of the rules could potentially bring new bars, restaurants and coffee shops to Cork’s iconic street.

City Hall director of planning, Fearghal Reidy, said the current restrictions will be reviewed because retail trends are changing and the local authority must adapt.

“It is evident that with changing trends in retail and shifts in city centre uses to more food and leisure-type uses, this policy may be overly restrictive, particularly in areas with a high degree of vacancy such as the western side of Patrick’s Street, located between William Street and Lavitt’s Quay,” said Mr Reidy.

The strict rules for Patrick’s Street were designed to ensure it didn’t become dominated by fast-food outlets, bookies, casinos and pubs.

Mr Reidy has now indicated that the policy could be relaxed in some circumstances while still protecting the unique character of the street.

He said: “The main higher-order retail core is now focused around the central part of St Patrick’s Street, Opera Lane, tapering off towards both ends.

“Shoppers and visitors to city centres are increasingly attracted by more leisure-type experiences. Increasing the potential for alternative uses such as café, bars, restaurants would enhance the vibrancy of the street and promote activity and active frontages.

“It is, therefore, considered timely to bring forward a variation of the City Development Plan to permit a greater array of uses on the street,” Mr Reidy added.

Cork Business Association chief executive Lawrence Owens said businesses are open to change and discussions to improve the retail offering in the city centre but has stressed that Patrick Street is Cork’s “iconic” street and should be protected.

“This could shape Patrick’s Street for the next 50 years. It is restricted in terms of keeping it as core retail but what we have suggested is that it needs engagement with businesses so they are consulted on what is next. 

"We don’t want to end up like O’Connell Street in Dublin, which is a disaster of planning where they threw everything at a city street. That’s a legacy that’s very hard to change.”

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