Skyscraper proposal to face planning challenges

Skyscraper proposal to face planning challenges
A conceptual image of the redeveloped Custom House Quay.

PROPOSALS to build a 40-storey skyscraper in Cork’s docklands will face major planning challenges as the site is not currently zoned for a tall building.

Plans for the new €100m building on the Port of Cork site at Custom House, which will be twice the height of the Elysian Tower, is being proposed by US-based developers Kevin and Donal O'Sullivan.

An artist's impression of how a skyscraper might look at Custom House Quay.
An artist's impression of how a skyscraper might look at Custom House Quay.

The Port of Cork site is currently home to the bonded warehouses and other protected structures.

Under the city's development plan, it is zoned for commercial use, but it is not one of several sites in the docklands earmarked for 'tall building'

development.

These sites are, instead, on the south side of the Lee, including several sites on Kennedy Quay, Monahan Road and Mahon.

Despite this, former Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Terry Shannon, said he does not expect major opposition when plans are formally submitted, but admitted the scale of the development may face challenges in the planning process.

"Cork is crying out for commercial space. There may have to be adjustments in terms of scale, but I think people will back it if it is right.

"We have a tall building strategy in Cork and while this is something new at 40 storeys, we have had this conversation before. The Elysian, for example, is slowly starting to fill up and it is time that we saw more development in the docklands."

Final designs may undergo some changes, though, he added.

"We have seen other proposals for the area that never happened. And, of course, it is a historic area, with the Custom House and the bonded warehouses, so any work will have to be handled with some degree of sensitivity."

Mr Shannon was critical of the design, though. Current plans envision 40 storeys of glass and steel.

"It looks like it was pulled out of a box," he said.

"Our cathedrals, banks and other buildings will last 200 years and that doesn't seem to be the case with anything new we are building.

"Look at European cities like Warsaw and Amsterdam - they incorporated their history into new developments and it works. Many of our modern buildings don't complement our built heritage and that should change."

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