PLANNING PERMISSION has been granted by Waterford City Council for a €380 million waterside hotel, leisure, office and residential development which is expected to create 400 jobs during construction and a similar number on completion.
The Water Haven development will be situated on a 13-acre site beside the river Suir at Bilberry in the city, which was formerly the old location of the Waterford Stanley iron foundry.
The scheme - proposed by local developer William Bolster - will feature an iconic 33-storey tower with 23 floors of apartments and 10 floors of offices.
The building will also house a bar and restaurant offering unprecedented views of Waterford city, east Co Waterford and south Co Kilkenny.
The brownfield lands, identified as an opportunity site in the Waterford City Development Plan 2007-2013, will also accommodate a 15-storey, 150-bedroom hotel along with underground parking, restaurants, smaller office units and duplex apartments.
The hotel, it is proposed, will have a large conference centre capable of accommodating 750 delegates - helping to make Waterford a more attractive venue for off-season business tourism.
A leisure and fitness centre will include a gymnasium, spa and swimming pool, while the scheme also includes provision for a marina with 60 berths.
Meanwhile, an extension of the Waterford and Suir Valley railway to allow the train run to the site of the former Waterford South railway station at Bilberry is also being facilitated by the design team led by Waterford-based CJ Falconer and Associates Chartered Architects.
The residential component of the development includes 420 apartments that will be pitched at families as well as couples, sharers and sole occupants.
Mr Bolster of the Tramore-based Bolster Group said he was delighted to have received planning permission from the Waterford council and hoped to proceed to the first construction phase of the development as early as possible in 2009.
"I would also like to thank the city manager, planning department and all the various departments of the authority along with all the local councillors who gave great support throughout the process. It is an example of how working together can create very exciting projects for the future of Waterford city and county," he said.
"In the current economic climate, it is a massive boost to Waterford and I would appeal to people's better judgment not to appeal the decision to An Bord Pleanála, which will allow us start real negotiations with hotel operators and companies wishing to relocate to Waterford.
"This will, in turn, create long-term jobs for the people of Waterford."
Mr Bolster said that, in the future, there will be opportunities to develop art galleries and appropriate retail, educational and ecclesiastical facilities in this urban quarter.