RESIDENTS have expressed their disappointment at the news that plans for a €100m redevelopment of the Wilton shopping centre have been approved by An Bord Pleanála.
The board’s decision comes after Wilton Road Residents' Association and others appealed the planning application that was given the green light by Cork City Council in August 2018.
An environmental impact assessment was carried out in recent months and it was deemed the effects of the project would be mitigated through a number of measures, with which the board agreed.
Issuing its decision today, An Bord Pleanála said the project would make a positive contribution to the area.
John Bowman, public relations officer for Wilton Community Action Group, is exasperated by the decision and said the development will only add to traffic issues in the area.
The project will feature new buildings reaching seven storeys in height, a 190-bedroom hotel, a 14-screen cinema, 4,400 sq m of office space, and an 874-space multi-level car park.
The proposal will see the demolition of the Penneys anchor store at one end and the extension of the footprint into the car park near the Wilton roundabout. This will accommodate a replacement Penneys store and another 1,300 sq m of retail space for new occupants.
Mr Bowman said the presence of a new cinema will mean patrons accessing and leaving the shopping centre later at night.
“I’m not opposed to the development because I like the idea of a cinema, new restaurants, and more in the area, but the traffic concerns need to be addressed,” he said. “Infrastructure needs to come first with these type of large-scale projects to ensure that the community doesn’t suffer for months on end during the construction and initial stages.”
Mr Bowman said that lessons need to be learned from the traffic and infrastructure issues at Mahon Point shopping centre.
“The shopping centre will be doubled, even tripled in size with this development, and its offering will be hugely improved,” he said. “Surely that will lead to a huge increase in the number of people going to it and, therefore, an increase in traffic and congestion.”
Mr Bowman called for chief executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty, to meet with residents to discuss their concerns over proposed projects for the area. Meetings have taken place recently between council representatives and residents over the proposed Wilton Corridor Project.
“This consultation process is ongoing and representatives from Cork City Council are available to meet with affected parties,” said a spokesperson for City Hall.
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