Plans for a major residential development on the site of the former St Kevin’s Hospital have been given the green light, with the first homes due to be available by 2023.
Last year, the Land Development Agency (LDA) applied to An Bord Pleanála for permission for a strategic housing development (SHD) on the grounds of the former hospital site in Shanakiel.
They sought permission to develop 266 residential units, a creche and an office enterprise centre on the site in a development which would be over 24,000 sq m in size.
An Bord Pleanála has now granted permission for the project, with a number of conditions attached.
In its decision, the board said that subject to compliance with the conditions, the proposed development would “constitute an acceptable quantum and density of development in this accessible urban location, would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area, would be acceptable in terms of urban design, height and quantum of development and would be acceptable in terms of impacts on an area of high-landscape value, protected views, a protected structure and buildings of architectural merit, traffic and pedestrian safety and convenience, ecology, flood risk and drainage.”
The development, which will overlook the River Lee, will consist of a mix of townhouses and duplex apartments including one, two, three- and four-bedroom homes.
Under the plans approved, the former St Kevin’s Hospital itself is to be stabilized, conserved and renovated to provide 60 apartments, a 440 square metre crèche at ground floor level, with ancillary outdoor play area and the conversion of the 630 square metre former chapel building to provide a new Office Enterprise Centre.
As part of the plans, 2,901 square metres of former hospital buildings and associated outbuildings on the site will be demolished including the former two-storey Saint Dympna's Hospital block, a former Doctors House, a hospital mortuary building, and shed buildings to the rear of the chapel.
While the tenure mix is yet to be confirmed by the Government, the LDA said the primary focus of the development will be social and affordable housing and the majority of houses will fit that criteria.
Commenting on the news, John Coleman, CEO of the LDA said the development of 266 homes will mean a “secure, safe and sustainable home” for hundreds of people close to Cork City.
“Our vision is for a community that provides for a mix of ages and a mix of needs. Our primary focus will be social and affordable housing and I expect this to be reflected in the ultimate make-up of the St. Kevin’s development.
“This is the second LDA project to achieve planning permission and is our first in Cork. From a standing start we are successfully moving a pipeline of projects forward with the goal of creating a steady supply of new housing on state land. We look forward to continuing to work with local representatives and other stakeholders in progressing this important project to completion.”
Ann Doherty, CEO Cork City Council added: “I welcome the granting of this planning permission to the LDA. 266 new homes for Cork City is good news for all our citizens. In addition to supplying housing, the project will bring back to life one of the most beautiful buildings in Cork. We are looking forward to working collaboratively with the LDA for the creation of a first-class community. While this is just the first site which the LDA will develop in Cork City, we expect it to be the first of many and I am particularly optimistic about the partnership the City Council is creating with the LDA to establish the Docklands Deliver Office to unleash the community potential of the Cork Docklands area.”
Sinn Féin TD for Cork North Central Thomas Gould welcomed the news.
“This is great news for those waiting on a house in Cork City. It’s a long time coming and a site I’ve been advocating for development for years now. It is now up to the LDA to work with the existing community to bring them along with this development. We want to see a sustainable community at St Kevin’s site. I’d hope that this development will be a catalyst for further investment in the area.”
He said that the key thing now is to “keep the pressure on to ensure that the affordable and cost-rental properties are available at a price that people can actually afford”.
“We need the details of the Affordable Housing Bill now, we need to know that prices will be based on affordability and not market value,” he said.
Sinn Féin representative for the Cork North West ward, Cllr Mick Nugent said he wanted to see more detail on the breakdown of social and affordable housing on the site.
“We need housing and it is a significant housing development -that has to be acknowledged and recognised, and we recognise that, but our preference would be that it would be 100 percent social and affordable housing,” he said.
Cllr Nugent also said he has some concerns around the road infrastructure in the area and more detail and definitive information is needed on the access and egress for the development.
Fianna Fáil representative for the area, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald said the decision was a welcome one.
“It’s a landmark site which carries a lot of history, and it’s good news that it is being developed,” he said.
Cllr Fitzgerald said that engagement in relation to issues such as traffic management with local residents, mobility strategies for public transport and ensuring the development does not impede on the residents already living in the area.
“Overall, it’s a good boost to the north-west area and it will provide huge opportunities for people to seek good accommodation in a great community,” he said.
Local resident and chairperson of the Blarney Street and surrounding areas Community Association, Tom Coleman also welcomed the news describing it as “the dawning of a new era” for the area.
He said that residents would use the opportunity to consult with developers to discuss and highlight concerns around infrastructure in the area with them.
36 conditions were attached to the plans which include the replacement of any brickwork or any works of repointing at the former St Kevin’s Hospital site be undertaken so that it matches the original existing wall finish. It stated all works to Saint Kevin's Hospital; the link corridor and Saint Kevin's Chapel shall be carried out under the supervision and in accordance with the requirements of a qualified professional with specialised conservation expertise. Bat roosts must also be incorporated into the site to ensure the protection of the natural heritage on the site.
The LDA has already commenced the delivery planning for the project and said it is intended to commence work on site as soon as possible with the first homes available by 2023.
In addition to the St. Kevin’s Hospital site, the LDA is currently working to establish a Cork Docklands Delivery Office in partnership with Cork City Council.