Green light for Square Deal student apartments

Green light for Square Deal student apartments
The former Square Deal building at Washington Street, Cork. Picture: Denis Minihane.

THE surge in student apartment developments in Cork is set to continue as planning permission has been granted for the redevelopment of the former Square Deal site to accommodate more than 220 student beds.

It now means that planners have given the green light to almost 500 student beds in just ten days in Cork city, with the 255-bed development at the Crow's Nest approved by An Bord Pleanála.

These newly-approved developments are just a few minutes away from the former Muskerry service station site on the Western Road which will shortly be home to 205 new student beds.

A number of other high profile developments are also on the horizon for Cork city, with construction underway on 413 beds on the site of the former Beamish & Crawford brewery and plans afoot for hundreds of beds near the Lough, Magazine Road and Farranlea Road.

The surge is being driven by a planned expansion in student numbers at both UCC and CIT in the coming years.

It has resulted in concern from residents in many communities, who fear that they will be overwhelmed by the massive developments in the coming years.

This concern has prompted Cork City Council to develop a specific strategy relating to student accommodation, including requirements on location and scale. It is due to come before the local authority in the coming weeks.

THE latest student apartment development will see the reconstruction of the protected structure that formerly housed the Square Deal furniture store.

228 beds will be built on the Western Road site, just minutes from UCC's main gates and the city centre.

The applicants, Summix WSC Developments Ltd, had lodged plans last April for the site's redevelopment after it was sold in January for €5m.

The former furniture shop, which closed in 2015, is a protected structure. The new development includes a cafe and co-working space on the ground floor.

The red brick exterior will be restored and retained, and windows and doors will be repaired or replaced, along with the existing roof.

Major changes to the structure will be made to the part of the structure at the corner of Washington Street and Wood Street, which will be upgraded and used as the main entrance.

“The subject scheme will transform the subject location by sensitively redeveloping the vacant protected structure and providing a high-quality contemporary designed mixed-use scheme, which will transform its receiving context by the creation of increased vitality at this prominent city centre urban block,” the planning application stated.

“The location of the site is ideally suited to student accommodation which will provide student living in the heart of the city with ease of access to educational institutions and the variety of retail and commercial facilities in Cork city.” However, in June, planners in City Hall said they had concerns about the plan and the visual impact the development would have on the character of the area and said there was a need to the lower the height of the building by at least one floor.

The company responded in January saying they had redesigned the building and the number of student beds has been reduced to 228.

City Hall has now granted planning permission for the development imposing 38 conditions.

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