Mixed reaction to proposals for Queen’s Old Castle redevelopment

The development includes plans to construct a part three, part four, part six and part seven storey office block.
Mixed reaction to proposals for Queen’s Old Castle redevelopment

Images prepared by Modelworks for the redevelopment of the Queen’s Old Castle Cork City Council has now given approval to the proposed development, with 29 conditions attached.

PROPOSALS to redevelop Cork’s historic Queen’s Old Castle, that have been green lit by Cork City Council, have been met with a mixed reaction.

City Properties (Cork) Limited has received conditional planning 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 development includes plans to construct a part three, part four, part six and part seven storey office block which, in documentation submitted with the application, states would have the capacity to cater for over 900 employees.

Speaking to The Echo Green party councillor Dan Boyle said that while he understands “the willingness of the city council to encourage any development” which is necessary from an economic viewpoint, he would have preferred to have seen residential development at the site.

“What’s being proposed visually doesn’t seem very appealing and the idea of office space when accommodation is what is needed and when the trend post-Covid, more likely than not, will be more working from home and less working from an office space, it doesn’t seem to be in accord with what our future planning should be,” he said.

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 as well as highlighting some reservations about the external finishes.

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.

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.

Independent councillor and local historian Kieran McCarthy said it is “great to see the investment into the space” and welcomed the engagement between the council’s planning unit and the developer on the height and design of the development.

“I realise that glass is a preferred and cheaper material to utilise but I wouldn’t like to see a city of storyless glass boxes either.

“Good design, good architecture can make or break a sense of place in a neighbourhood.

“Queen’s Old Castle Shopping Centre was the site of one of the towers - called King’s Castle- which controlled the medieval Watergate and medieval dock- this tower is shown in the city’s coat of arms.

“In essence, this is where the trade of our port city began over 700 years ago.

“Adaptation of the site may also be required if the foundations of the tower are discovered or even other prominent archaeological features.

“The tower was also the city’s courthouse in the eighteenth century before it became a very prominent drapery store in the early part of the nineteenth century. It would be a shame not to tell the overall story of the building in some way,” he continued.

Independent councillor and former Lord Mayor of Cork, Mick Finn said the historic Queen’s Old Castle has been in need of redevelopment for some time and welcomed the plans “to “breathe new life into it”.

“It is important that what is left of the old structure, and what lies beneath, is preserved and utilised to the full in the design and functioning of the new space.

“I think there is going to be further significant development in this area which has to be a boost for the city.

“Incorporating a residential element should really be factored in also, given the huge pressures on the housing market.

“Hopefully also this rising tide of inner-city development will help restore North and South Main streets to their former glories," he continued.

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