CORK TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has expressed his "deep disappointment" with the news that Cork County Council has returned a grant of €1.875m for the proposed Passage West Docks redevelopment.
The money, which was granted to the council in November 2018 under the Government’s Urban Regeneration Development Fund (URDF) was allocated specifically to buy the eight-acre site for a regeneration scheme that would see the docks become a modern waterfront settlement overlooking the harbour.
The plans however suffered a setback in early 2019 when the dockyard was taken off the market because of the uncertainty that Brexit created for Ireland’s future shipping needs.
It was recently confirmed to the Cork South Central TD during parliamentary questions that Cork County Council are no longer proceeding with the proposal for Passage West, and accordingly, the Department of Housing, Local Government, and Heritage formally rescinded the approval on June 18, 2019.
Deputy Ó Laoghaire said he is "deeply disappointed" to learn the grant was handed back in 2019.
“I can’t understand why this was not announced at the time, given the importance of this to Passage West. Many local representatives had been seeking flexibility from the Department to ensure the grant could be retained given its value, however, no one expected the Council would have handed it back, and relatively quickly at that,” he said.
The Sinn Féin TD has expressed his frustration with the approach from the Council.
“It is very disappointing. At the very least planning for the future of the site could have continued, and that clearly costs money, so I will be seeking from the Council whether any monies obtained for that was kept and whether there are still intentions to try and secure this crucial site.
“I accept the owner was not willing at that point to sell the site, however, they should have waited to see how the situation settled and if the owner was still unwilling to sell, a Compulsory Purchase Order should have been considered in light of its strategic importance, however, there’s nothing to show that this was considered,” he added.
County Councillor Seamus McGrath said Cork County Council needs to be "proactive" in engaging with the owners should it appear on the market again. “All the funding schemes have a time limit which has now elapsed. The Council needs to be proactive in remaining in contact with the occupier and trying to see if the property can be acquired. It is the linchpin in terms of trying to transform the core of Passage West. The potential is enormous if this site became available,” he said.
contacted Cork County Council for comment.