'I’m sure this isn’t the final chapter in the story': Mixed reaction to approval of plans for redevelopment of Cork hotel site

A local representative said while the plans 'are better than nothing' he believed locals would have preferred to have the hotel restored to its former glory.
'I’m sure this isn’t the final chapter in the story': Mixed reaction to approval of plans for redevelopment of Cork hotel site

Aerial views from the planning documents showing the proposed development on the former Blarney Park Hotel site, close to Blarney Castle.

Plans to redevelop a Cork hotel and leisure centre, which were initially shot down by Cork City Council’s planning department, have been approved by An Bord Pleanála, despite the body’s own inspector recommending that the development not go ahead.

The news has been met with mixed reaction, with a local representative saying he believed locals would have preferred to have the hotel restored to its former glory.

Irish Conference and Leisure Holdings Ltd had sought approval for a mixed-use development on the site of the former Blarney Park Hotel, on St Ann’s Road, Monacnapa, Blarney.

City Hall refused permission for the development on a number of grounds, but that decision was appealed. The development, with a gross floor area of 16,781sq m, includes an 80-bedroom hotel, a licensed supermarket, a two-storey cafe and a two-storey office building, as well as a commercial building with a restaurant, two shops, and a personal services unit. There are also plans for 70 residential units in 11 buildings and two neighbourhood play areas.

Cork City councillor and Blarney resident Damian Boylan said locals would have preferred to have the hotel restored.

“I think it’s better than nothing. What people actually wanted was for the Blarney Park Hotel to be restored because it gave us a 12-month economy,” he told The Echo.

“It sustained a lot of jobs. People got married there. When it went, Blarney lost its swimming pool and gym.”

However, Mr Boylan said he was pleased to see plans being made for the site.

“This is better than having the derelict site that we’ve had there for over 10 years. All that did was attract antisocial behaviour,” he said.

The city councillor said the inclusion of a new supermarket would also make life easier for the people of Blarney village.

“We’ll see where it goes. I’m sure this isn’t the final chapter in the story,” Mr Boylan said.

Welcome for supermarket plans 

The inclusion of a supermarket in the plans is something that Cork North-Central Socialist Party and Solidarity TD Mick Barry and Cork City councillor Fiona Ryan have especially welcomed.

In a joint statement, they said: “The communities in Blarney and Tower need a supermarket with affordable prices. People in those communities should not be forced to travel to Ballincollig or Blackpool for their weekly shop.

“We will be watching developments closely. There should be no attempt to overturn this decision and the work should be processed sooner rather than later.”

The scheme is to be developed in four phases, with the supermarket, hotel, and northern residential units to be developed in the first two phases.

'A need for additional accommodation'

Cork North Central Fine Gael TD Colm Burke said that, while the development was welcome, he would like to see a bigger hotel than the proposed 80-room facility being built in the area.

“Blarney is a growing community and a lot of tourists visit, but they only stay for a short period of time. It’s extremely important that we do have good hotel accommodation for them,” Mr Burke said.

“If you go to Killarney, there’s such a choice of hotels and people stay around longer. I remember, before Covid, there would be a huge number of coaches in Blarney in the morning and four hours later they’d all be gone.

“There is a need for additional accommodation in the village.”

Prior to the appeal, An Bord Pleanála’s inspector stated that the development should be refused permission given the site’s proximity to the Blarney architectural conservation area.

The board disagreed and the development was granted planning subject to 26 mainly routine conditions, such as that a minimum of 10% of parking spaces have electric vehicle charging stations.

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