Fresh proposals for Cork student development to rent rooms to tourists

Fresh proposals for Cork student development to rent rooms to tourists

Lee Point. Picture: Philip Lauterbach

A SECOND planning application has been made to Cork City Council by those behind a student accommodation block seeking permission to rent rooms to tourists.

Irish Student Fund (Cork) IV — Brewery Quarter Student Ireland Limited have requested that the Lee Point student accommodation development, which comprises Zone A of the wider Beamish and Crawford Brewery site, be granted permission to rent 168 of its 420 bedrooms to tourists and visitors from September 1, 2021 to May 31, 2022.

Previously, in January, it applied for permission for some bedrooms to be allocated for tourism use for the months of January to May 2021, in order to allow for “optimal use” of the development, but the Irish Hotel Federation (IHF) appealed to An Bord Pleanála claiming the development would threaten the viability of local hotels.

In a statement to The Echo, the IHF said it was aware of the latest application, but would need to study it.

“On a general point, the IHF maintains its opposition to applications for change of use, which seek to allow the use of student accommodation as tourist accommodation.

“It views with serious concern any developments that could undermine the viability of the hotel and guesthouse sector in Cork and elsewhere.”

In relation to the council’s responsibility in making a sound decision, the IHF said: “It is imperative that local authorities carry out thorough impact assessments to satisfy themselves that there will be no negative impact on the sustainability of existing businesses in the accommodation sector due to planning applications.”

The organisation also highlighted the large positive impact the hospitality and tourism sector has on the local region.

“Pre-Covid, tourism supported 25,300 jobs in Cork and contributed €895 million to the local economy. However, the existing tourist accommodation sector in Cork is extremely vulnerable at present, due to the impact of the pandemic restrictions and the slow recovery in business that is projected.

“Hotels are an important part of tourism’s infrastructure and can play a key role in the recovery of tourism in the city and wider region.”

The IHF said they were not against developments that accentuate or complement the sector but, were not supporting an application that, they feel, has the potential to derail existing businesses within the sector.

“The Irish hotel sector is not opposed to development and in particular advocate developments which will improve and enhance the cultural, social, economic and tourism offering of Cork City including developments which would attract a vibrant student population.

“However, we maintain our position with regards to any planning applications that threatens the survival and recovery of the existing tourist and hotel accommodation businesses.”

A decision is due to be made on whether the Lee Point proposals can proceed on September 9.

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