Alternative sites are put forward for Cork events centre

Alternative sites are put forward for Cork events centre

Artists impression of the proposed conference and events centre at the heart of the €150m Brewery Quarter regeneration project on the former Beamish and Crawford site in Cork. 

CURRAHEEN and Carrigtwhohill have been proposed as alternative sites for a Cork event centre as concerns grow about the city location for the long-awaited amenity.

Calls have been heard in the city and county for the current plan for a multi-functional centre at the Beamish & Crawford site on South Main Street to be scrapped in a favour of an alternative location.

While the BAM-owned site has seen some demolition and archaeological, this week's revelations that further funding to cover contingency costs was required has cast even further doubt on the viability of the project.

City businesses have questioned whether other locations, such as the city's docklands, would be more readily developed, while many have raised concerns about whether the increased contribution from the State undermines the tendering process.

Initially, central government was set to contribute €20 million to the project, though BAM confirmed that they were seeking an extra €12 million in February. This has now increased to €18 million, including €6 million in contingency costs.

Alan Coleman, the former mayor of Cork County, has suggested that greenfield sites near the city represent a better option for developers.

Mr Coleman pointed to the Munster Agricultural Society owned site in Curraheen, while others have mentioned the Amgen site near Carrigtwhohill as an option too.

Mr Coleman said, "It is out of control at this stage. If it is proving this difficult to build in the city centre, then maybe we need to consider an alternative?

"What we have in Curraheen is a ready-made site. The owners already hope to build some form of event centre there so it might be wise to combine the two.

"At the moment, we are just going around in circles. There has to be a better way of dealing with it."

Former Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Terry Shannon, dismissed his counterpart's claim.

Mr Shannon said that the city has fought to develop the event centre for too long to let it go now.

"We are not at the stage of going back to the drawing board by any stretch," he said.

"The City Council have been fighting for this for a very long time. We have given permission for not one, but three sites in the city at the O'Callaghan location in the quays, the Marquee site and the current BAM site.

"The issue isn't on the Council's end."

Mr Shannon said the centre is critical for the development of the city, citing the development of the Waterfront in Belfast.

He said, "Before that was built, it was literally bombed out and in the middle of nowhere. But the theatre brought bars, hotels and shops and that entire area is thriving.

"The issue with a greenfield site is the lack of transport links and facilities - bars, hotels, restaurants. We have those in the city and it doesn't make sense to build this elsewhere."

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