Plans lodged for 191 apartments on Cork's northside

Plans lodged for 191 apartments on Cork's northside

Distillery Quarter, North City Link Road (N20), Blackpool, Co. Cork. Prepared by G-Net3D

Plans lodged with An Bord Pleanála for a build-to-rent scheme in the northside of the city have been met with a mixed reaction.

Local councillors have said that while the development by Eichsfeld Limited would be welcome for the suburb of Blackpool, there are some concerns.

If the 191 apartment development is given the go-ahead, it will see the conversion of a 230-year-old former distillery building, Hewitt’s Mill, into apartments, as well as the construction of two nine-storey apartment blocks on wasteland directly opposite the Revenue Commissioners’ offices on Assumption Road.

A third nearby parcel of land, at Shandon Villa, Popes Hill Road, is earmarked for a single apartment block, ranging in height from three to six storeys.

If the development goes ahead, it will be known as the Distillery Quarter.

The plan was originally to build 229 apartments on a composite of four sites close to each other in Blackpool, but this was amended to 191 apartments after one site - a former furniture store at Nos 11-13 Watercourse Road - was removed from the strategic housing development (SHD) application. A separate application in relation to this site is with Cork City Council.

The development now proposed will finish out development on Carey/Sheahan lands in the area and architects are Wilson Architecture, designers of the award-winning Penrose Dock.

Reaction

Fianna Fáil councillor Tony Fitzgerald welcomed the development, saying that the provision of housing in terms of supporting the needs of the population is important.

The Cork North-West councillor said that the development “should meet the character of Blackpool in the sense of its architecture and heritage” and that he would like to see “the possibility of the older population being able to get accommodation in terms of addressing mobility”.

“And that means that the housing needs of the city are being met through this.

“My understanding is that there are around nine developments at the moment either in process or under construction in the Blackpool area so there needs to be contributing as well to the social fabric of Blackpool. We don't want all just buildings, we want it to be a place where the residents can live in a healthy environment and have access to local services.

“Overall, the development is welcome and meets the needs of the local area and the local economy,” he said.

More mixed development needed

Councillor John Sheehan said that while he welcomes the buy-to-rent development, that the Blackpool area “needs more mixed development”.

“First of all, it looks like an overdevelopment on the site. The site is quite small and that number of apartments on a small site I think certainly would pose significant challenges, to be honest.

Distillery Quarter, North City Link Road (N20), Blackpool, Co. Cork. Prepared by G-Net3D
Distillery Quarter, North City Link Road (N20), Blackpool, Co. Cork. Prepared by G-Net3D

“I think it would be nice to see some development there obviously but I think maybe a smaller scale and more appropriate to the site.

“The other issue I would have is that this is the second build-to-rent planning application that has gone in in Blackpool. There's a 114-apartment one on the Redforge Road as well and really what you want to build a sustainable community is we need opportunities for people to be able to buy things and make Blackpool their home.

“There's about eight different housing developments that the City Council, through different housing associations are involved in in the Blackpool area and that's absolutely fabulous, that will build a long term sustainable community but for those individuals who are over the limit for social housing, they need somewhere they can buy and they can call their home,” he said.

Cllr Sheehan said that he does not know if the build-to-rent development “is very good for sustainable communities” and that it would be “much better if one, it was a slightly smaller scale and two, if it was more of a mixed development”.

Restoration of Blackpool

Independent councillor Ken O’Flynn said that rent-to-buy schemes “haven’t worked predominantly over the city or the rest of the county”, but that if it is going to work anywhere, it will work in Blackpool.

“Given the developments that are nearby with Apple and other commercial developments and its location close to the shopping centre and tax office,” he said.

“It's a very welcome development and I’m delighted to see more rental and private people coming into the market in Blackpool. It's important that we have a mixed-use of people that are bringing a vibrancy.

“I have raised my concerns in the past that we would only have social tenants, which is great, but I don't want to see an overdevelopment of social tenants. What I really want to see is a good mix of people from all walks of life and that will help develop a village and a neighbourhood again and restore Blackpool to what it was,” he said.

Decision

The application for the development was lodged with An Bord Pleanála last Friday with a decision due within 16 weeks.

It says it’s a build-to-rent scheme, with this status in place for not less than 15 years with no individual units sold or rented separately within that period.

It also says the proposed development is “intended to augment the housing provision within the northwest and central area of Cork city and support the continued use of warehouse structure by way of residential provision”.

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