Friday 13 August 2010

Docklands plan for Cork could create 5,000 jobs

PLANNING PERMISSION has been sought for a major development in the Cork docklands which the promoter says could create up to 5,000 jobs.

The depressed state of the market means it could be several years, however, before the project proceeds, the developer said yesterday. Businessman Gerry Wycherley said the decision to apply for planning permission to develop the 24-acre site at the Marina Commercial Park had been taken in preparation for an improvement in the market over the next five to 10 years.

Obtaining planning permission would mean the project would be ready to start once the market improved. Mr Wycherley said the 2.5 million sq ft development would include 880 apartments along 350m (1,150ft) of quay front, providing accommodation for 2,230 people.

It would also include some 750,000sq ft of office space, some 200,000sq ft for business and technology use, just under 200,000sq ft for retail and almost 150,000sq ft for commercial use with retail and commercial located off Centre Park Road.

“Obviously, at the moment, the residential market has bombed so we won’t start building the residential part of the project until there is a clear demand and we can move units. But I’m confident that the market will pick up. The demographics are good in that regard,” Mr Wycherley said.

“The other major factor is the provision of infrastructure including a new local access bridge across the Lee at Water Street as well as a new Eastern Gateway Bridge at Tivoli and the raising of Centre Park Road by up to three metres – all that is vital for the development.”

Mr Wycherley, who developed the Cork Airport Business Park, said the project did not necessarily have to be carried out in one complete operation but could be done on a phased basis once work had begun on the provision of infrastructure.

The site comprised some 18 acres occupied by the Ford factory which closed in 1983 and a further six acres occupied by Dunlops, which closed 1984. Mr Wycherley acquired them in the late 1980s and converted them into the Marina Commercial Park.

Some 150 businesses operate within the park, employing 1,500 people, and Mr Wycherley expressed confidence it would be possible to reaccommodate these existing businesses on site during redevelopment.

The average height of the proposed development, designed by architects Henry J Lyons and Partners, is five to eight storeys with one landmark building of 16 storeys earmarked for residential usage and a second building of 12 storeys earmarked for commercial usage, he said.

Cork city manager Joe Gavin welcomed the lodging of the planning application and said it marked a crucial step in realising Cork City Council’s vision for the development of Cork docklands.

While Cork City Council is continuing to call on the Government for funding for infrastructure such as the Eastern Gateway Bridge, developments such as the Marina Commercial Park show that the business world has confidence in the city’s development plan, he said.

Irish Times

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