Some housing plans welcome in Cork, others not

Some housing plans welcome in Cork, others not

A view of the new homes planned for the St Kevin's site at Shanakiel in Cork. Picture: Land Development Agency

IN the last month, plans have been revealed for a controversial strategic housing development on lands at Bessborough in the Blackrock area of Cork city.

Councillors and TDs, including Kieran McCarthy and Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire, as well as the Cork Survivors and Supporters Alliance, have raised significant concerns about the proposal for almost 250 apartments on lands which previously formed part of Mother and Baby Home lands.

Two site notices were erected at Ballinure, Blackrock, from developers MWB Two Ltd.

One is for a strategic housing development and the other is for a significant additional number of units through Cork City Council.

This is significant, as there are two separate applications for what is to be a combined development.

The strategic housing development proposal relates to the construction of 179 residential units in three apartment blocks, ranging from five to seven storeys. It is proposed that 88 of the apartments will be one-bedroom, 85 would be two-bed and six would be three-bed.

The same developer has applied for permission from Cork City Council separately to construct 67 apartments in an eight-storey building at the same address. It is proposed there would be 29 one-bed apartments in this development, along with 38 two-bed apartments.

Both site notices include a provision for a new pedestrian and cycle access point to the Passage West Greenway.

MWB Two Ltd lodged a strategic housing development pre- application consultation with Bord Pleanála for the construction of more than 250 residential units in the Cork City suburb earlier this year.

At that time it sought to build 252 apartments, six houses, and a creche under one application on the same site as these two new applications. The board ruled that the proposed development required further consideration or amendment before it could proceed to application stage.

Asked by The Echo why it chose to submit two separate proposals for the site to two bodies, a spokesperson on behalf of the group said it was “for planning procedural reasons”.

MWB Two Ltd confirmed that “the proposed ‘Gateway View’ development will be directed towards the private rental market and will also include serviced step-down accommodation for the elderly.

“The overall development will be sensitively designed and landscaped throughout, creating an inclusive community feel,” it said.

Meanwhile, in news which will see an old, run-down, disused building and its ground brought back into use, the Land Development Agency has submitted plans for 266 residential units on the grounds of the former St Kevin’s Hospital site in Shanakiel under the fast-track strategic housing development planning process.

Plans outline proposals for 46 townhouses as part of the development, 32 of which are three-bed homes and 14 of which have four-beds, arranged in 11 two-storey blocks. There are 54 ground floor, two-bed duplex apartments, with 36 three-bed and 18 four-bed duplex townhouses above, arranged in seven three-storey blocks, and 52 walk-up apartments — 11 one-bed and 41 two-bed — arranged in three four-storey blocks are also included in the application.

The former St Kevin’s Hospital itself is set to be stabilised, conserved and renovated to provide 60 apartments: 26 one-bed, and 34 two-bed. The former hospital will also house a creche, while the former chapel building will host a new Office Enterprise centre.

Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Thomas Gould, said: “This site has been a drain on public resources for the last 18 years. Over €1m has been spent on security.

“I would call on the Land Development Agency to commit to proactively engage with, and take on board suggestions of, the local communities. There are serious concerns with infrastructure in the area, especially with road connections and a lack of bus services.”

St Kevin’s Hospital was closed by the HSE in 2002 and, following years of anti-social behaviour at the site, was added to the derelict-sites register in February 2017.

A fire in July, 2017, gutted the building with numerous smaller fires and anti-social behaviour instances reported since. It was revealed in The Echo in July, 2019, that the dilapidated building had been acquired by the agency, but the details of the acquisition deal have not been made public.

The agency was established in 2018 with the promise it would build 150,000 houses over 20 years using State land.

Separately, a legal challenge has been mounted against a decision of Bord Pleanála to grant planning permission for a 216-bed student accommodation development at San Paula, Orchard Road in the city.

The action has been brought by an association that represents residents who are opposed to the demolition of an existing structure and the construction of the student housing development consisting of 30 apartments located at Orchard Road in Cork city.

The proposed five-storey block is located near the main campus of University College Cork.

It’s proposed there will be one four-bed apartment, 10 six-bed apartments, and 19 eight-bed apartments as part of the development. A cinema/meeting room is also proposed for the development, along with a lounge and study area.

The case taken by the association, called the Orchard Road and Grove Planning and Environmental Protection Group, is against the board, as well as the Minister for Housing, Local Government, Heritage, Ireland and the Attorney General.

The group, which is represented by Neil Steen SC and Jon Kenny Bl, wants the court to quash the board’s decision of October 19 to give the proposed development the go-ahead.

The developer, Denis O’Brien Developments Cork Ltd, is a notice party to the proceedings.

Earlier this month, Mr Justice Richard Humphreys, who manages the High Court’s strategic infrastructure development and commercial planning list, granted the applicant permission to bring the action. The action adjourned to January.

Meanwhile, plans for two other strategic housing developments in Cork have been sent back to the drawing board in the last few weeks.

Ardstone Homes Ltd was engaged in a strategic housing development pre-application consultation with the board on the possible provision of 276 residential units at Ardarostig, Bishopstown.

Its proposals included the provision of 137 houses and 139 apartments, as well as a creché at the location.

At pre-application stage, the board reviews the proposals and then either decides it can move on to the full application phase as they stand, or whether further amendments or changes are required before it can proceed.

In this case, it ruled that the proposed development “requires further consideration/amendment”.

Ardstone Homes Ltd must now make some changes to its proposals. Information on what those amendments are is not made publicly available.

Only when a formal strategic housing development application is submitted is it possible to view the full extent of the proposed plans.

Meanwhile, a proposal for the construction of 265 student bed spaces at Wilton Road, Victoria Cross, Bishopstown, also requires further consideration/amendment according to Bord Pleanála.

Bellmount Developments Limited made the application.

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