Zoning to protect Beamish site

Zoning to protect Beamish site
The former Beamish and Crawford brewery site. Picture Dan Linehan

CITY councillors are prepared to seek zoning guarantees to ensure the events centre site does not become ‘a wasteland for student apartments.’

The call comes just days after Tánaiste Simon Coveney confirmed that a ‘new proposal’ will aim to bring certainty to the project in the coming weeks.

Concerns have been raised that developer BAM is pressing ahead with apartments and offices on sections of the old Beamish & Crawford site while the events centre is left in limbo.

It is now 23 months since the sod was turned on the events centre. Delays and changes to the planning have prompted fears it may never be fully realised.

Independent councillor Mick Finn, who is expected to be the next Lord Mayor, said he will look for zoning guarantees to protect a project of critical importance for the city.

Mr Finn said: “We are frustrated, but a lot of work is going on behind the scenes to rescue a process that we must remember is giving private developers the guts of €30m in state funding. If the developers feel that this is not enough and suggest that other cities pay for these projects in full, well I would say they knew the process they were getting into, and it’s time to deliver or surrender.”

Mr Finn added: “I, for one, will not allow this crucial site, zoned for the events centre and specific other uses, become a wasteland of apartments and I’m sure other councillors will say the same. I will seek specific zoning ring-fence guarantees on the site if the event centre does not go ahead.”

The Independent councillor rejected suggestions that the plan could still go ahead on another site.

“Other proposals had no operators in place, which appears to be the biggest challenge in the process,” Mr Finn said. Under the Cork City Development Plan, just a small portion of the South Main Street site — a space on the southern side of the development land — is zoned for parks or recreational use. The rest has zoning for mixed use, such as retail, offices or housing. BAM has already commenced work on the student apartments planned for the former Beamish & Crawford site and is expected to begin work on office blocks shortly.

However, a final decision on an application for an additional €10m in funding for the events centre, submitted to the government by Cork City Council at the request of BAM in September, has yet to be confirmed.

Some €20m has already been committed, including €8m by Cork City Council, though none of this money has been given to the developers yet. Demolition work, archaeological excavations and the purchase of the site itself has all been paid for by BAM.

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