PROPOSALS to redevelop Cork’s historic Queen’s Old Castle have been green lit by Cork City Council.
In August, City Properties (Cork) Limited lodged a planning application seeking permission for a range of conservation, demolition, refurbishment, and alteration works to allow for the construction of a retail and office development at 84-89 Grand Parade.
The application said that primary access to the mixed-use development would be from Grand Parade, with service and ancillary access from St Augustine Street.
The proposed development included plans to construct a part three, part four, part six and part seven storey office block, which would have the capacity to cater for over 900 employees.
In documentation submitted with the application, it says that the proposed office space will be designed “to be suitable for a single user or multiple users with subdivisions”.
The proposals also include plans for roof terraces, 66 internal bicycle parking spaces, staff changing facilities and an ESB substation.
Cork City Council requested further information from the applicant before making its decision, stating that it had some concerns around the proposals, including the proposed height and massing of the scheme.
The council also suggested that the applicant should reconsider the dark colour palette for the taller element “to reduce the visual bulk of the proposed development”.
A meeting with the council and the applicant’s design team took place in early November to discuss options to address the concerns raised.
A number of design options and material studies were presented and explored at this meeting, which centred around amendments to the proposed seven-storey scheme versus a revised six-storey scheme.
The design team explained the architectural and conservation strategies employed in respect of the proposed development, as well as the visual impact of the various design options and material studies that were considered in order to address the concerns raised by the council.
Following this meeting, the council confirmed that the preferred design option was the seven-storey scheme, where the top-level plant area has a lightened external finish.
In documentation submitted with the further information, it states that
“very little demolition of the historic fabric of the Queen’s Old Castle is proposed, as the design of the new proposal centres around the retention of the most significant surviving elements of the building.”
It adds that the historic materials and character of the existing building are being carefully conserved, including the classical entrance facade and the cast-iron and beam internal structure, including the north light roof glazing.
The documentation also states that in none of the photomontages does the seven-storey building “dominate, screen, or otherwise harm any of the smaller historic buildings”.
Cork City Council has now given its approval to the proposed development, with 29 conditions attached.
One condition states that no construction or site preparation work may be carried out until all archaeological requirements of the city archaeologist are complied with.
Another condition states that a detailed method statement of the programme of archaeological monitoring should be submitted planning authority for agreement prior to commencement of work on the development.