PLANS for a 15-storey office building in the heart of Cork city have received the support of the City Architect and the Deputy Chief Executive of Cork City Council despite objections to the building's height from heritage body An Taisce and a senior planner.
The Prism, a €20 million glass-fronted building, is planned for the small triangular site next to the Parnell Place bus station.
Tower Holdings Group, owned by Kevin O’Sullivan, will oversee the development which has already received the support of the Cork Business Association and the Cork Chamber.
However, An Taisce says a tall building on Clontarf Street would not be in accordance with the height guidelines in the Cork City Development Plan (CCDP).
They said the City Development Plan makes it clear that tall buildings should be located in the Docklands and in South Mahon and should be resisted in areas of special or significant character in the city.
However, in a report, the City Architect Tony Duggan said the height of The Prism: "Provides an opportunity for a potentially elegant building marking the transition from the 18th and 19th century three to four storey development of the "island" and to the beginning of the 21st century Dockland development."
"I consider that such a tall building at this location - the end of the "island" can be accommodated as a "marker" and a "one-off" development without disturbing the 19th-century skyline punctuated by church spires, which is a feature of Cork city," Mr Duggan said.
His comments were backed up in a report from the deputy Chief Executive Pat Ledwidge who disagreed with the recommendation of a senior planner who said the development should be refused permission.
"The substantive issues underpinning the recommendation for refusal relate to the height of the proposed structure," Mr Ledwidge said.
"Whereas paragraph 16.34 of the development plan states that 'The City Council has identified Dockland and South Mahon as areas with potential to accommodate high buildings' and that they will be resisted in other areas, this does not constitute a total prohibition."
"I consider that tall buildings can be accommodated in other locations in exceptional circumstances."
While they approved the proposed height of the building, both Mr Duggan and Mr Ledwidge said further information should be sought from the developers on the extent of the transparency of the glazing system the building will have. City Hall has also requested further information on traffic and visual impact issues.
Tower Holdings now has six months to comply with the further information request after which, City Hall will have four weeks to make a decision.