Appeal lodged against planning approval for the redevelopment of Cork’s historic Queen’s Old Castle

In December, the council green-lit proposals from City Properties (Cork) Limited 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.
Appeal lodged against planning approval for the redevelopment of Cork’s historic Queen’s Old Castle

Computer generated image of the planned retail and office development at Cork's Queen's Old Castle site. Image: Model Works

A third-party appeal has been lodged with An Bord Pleanála in a bid to overturn Cork City Council’s decision to grant planning permission for a redevelopment of Cork’s historic Queen’s Old Castle.

In December, the council green-lit proposals from City Properties (Cork) Limited 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 mixed-use development includes 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.

City Properties (Cork) Limited was granted permission for the development, with 29 conditions attached.

However, the redevelopment of the landmark premises has now been put on hold following an appeal submitted by An Taisce Corcaigh.

'Significant revisions' needed, appeal argues

In its appeal report, An Taisce argues that the proposed scheme requires “significant revisions” to its design and a reduction in height “so as to provide a better integration of this building into this historic city centre location”.

“This is an historic retail facade (NIAH listed) situated on Daunt Square, an important central place in the city between the old medieval city area and the 18th-century expansion.

“The building occupies a pivotal position in the city and completes the vista at the western end of St Patrick’s Street.

“In our view, extensions to it require a more considered architectural approach than that approved by Cork City Council, having regard to the surrounding urban setting and the key vista leading to this building,” the appeal states.

An Taisce claims the scheme is “excessive” in terms of its height and scale and that the design is “unsuitable” in a historic Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), “in particular the design of the eastern facade of the new building fronting onto an important central public space”.

Further information 

Before making a decision on the planning application, Cork City Council had sought further information, 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.

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 its appeal, An Taisce acknowledged the developers had made some amendments to the design of the building to address concerns regarding overshadowing of neighbouring properties.

However, they said the scheme had been approved “largely as submitted”.

An Taisce argued the current plans for the building would have adverse visual impacts on the surrounding area, which would be contrary to the Cork City Development Plan 2015-2022, which aims to protect and enhance the built heritage of the city centre.

The organisation said the proposed development would be an outlier in the area.

“There is no other example of a building of this scale, height and type of design having been approved for insertion within an existing streetscape in the inner older part of the city centre with a fully glazed horizontal-style scheme proposed to rise some five floors behind the existing facade, albeit set back behind it.

“It will clearly change entirely the look of the whole streetscape at this point, and the approach vista,” they said.

An Taisce said other interventions onto the principal streets of the city “have generally achieved a significantly better balance of existing and new design” in regard to the core principles of the Cork City Development Plan depending on their locations, citing Dunnes Stores on Patrick Street as one example.

An Bord Pleanála is due to make a decision on the case by the end of May.

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