MORE than 200 apartments and office space for 5,000 people is set to go ahead after Cork City Council approved planning for a €160 million scheme at Horgan's Quay.
A 136-bed hotel and three public plazas are also included in the plans from HQ Developments, which will revamp a 6.1-acre site next to Kent Station.
Senior officials at City Hall say they believe the proposal will be a further catalyst for development in the east of the city, with more projects potentially following suit shortly.
Planners yesterday signed off on the proposals for HQ Developments, an ambitious joint-venture from Clarendon Properties and BAM Ireland.
It includes almost 37,000 sq m of offices in three blocks, as well as 237 apartments over four blocks. A 136-bed hotel with a rooftop restaurant and some 2,285 sq m of retail and restaurant space are also included in the mixed-use development, which finally draws a line under the two-decade long saga surrounding the site which was once the proposed home to an events centre, as well a technology park and more than 1,000 apartments.
Pat Ledwidge, Deputy Chief Executive of Cork City Council, welcomed the decision to approve planning.
"It is a welcome development in the context of the National Development Plan and the Planning Framework," he said.
"Despite all the positive activity in the city centre, there is still a shortage of high-quality office space in Cork city centre.
"This is welcome in the context of the other developments happening in the city too, including the finished One Albert Quay, the South Mall plan and the work at Navigation Square. As we see the steel rising above Navigation Square, we see the potential.
"I hope that when the first blocks of Navigation Square are ready for fit-out this time next year that Horgan's Quay will be at the same stage Navigation Square is now."
HQ Developments is the first step in the regeneration of the Kent Station lands, which have been idle for quite a number of years. Mr Ledwidge said he hopes that some more of the area will be made available for similar works.
"Those that aren't required by Irish Rail for operational purposes are ideal for development," he said.
"There is no real flooding issues, the infrastructure is there; there is no limit on what could be achieved there.
"It is the next step in revitalising that whole eastern end of the city."
The planning decision is now open to a four week window of appeal. If this passes without objection, it is understood that developers are keen to begin work as soon as possible.
It is the latest in a series of major developments in the city centre, following office projects at One Albert Quay, Navigation Square and the South Mall, as well as hotel and student accommodation builds throughout the city.
Mr Ledwidge said he is optimistic that further activity will follow suit.
"There are a number of other plans in the pipeline," he said.
"There is a major planning permission in place at the Trinity Quarter already that we would like to see progressed and, of course, there is a major shortage of housing.
"That is why this development is so welcome: there is a hotel, there are offices, there is apartments and there are some very nice public plazas too."