New plans to redevelop Cork’s historic Queen’s Old Castle building have been submitted to Cork City Council.
Under the proposals, a range of renovation, demolition, renovation and alteration works will be carried out to allow for the construction of retail and office buildings up to seven stories high.
Located in the heart of downtown, the former store has been occupied by a range of different retailers in recent years. The owners of Clarendon Properties are now proposing a major redevelopment of the site that will preserve the building’s facade and a number of interior elements.
If approved and built, the project will provide 9,728 square meters of office space and 123 square meters of retail space. The developers said the proposed office space would be designed to be suitable for one or multiple users with space subdivisions.
Queen’s Old Castle Department Store was originally built in the 1840s. It closed in 1978 and was briefly occupied by the Penneys department store before being redeveloped as a shopping center in 1980. It was acquired by Clarendon which turned it into two large retail units.
A previous planning application from Clarendon, through City Properties (Cork) Ltd, was granted permission in October that would have allowed for a more modest redevelopment of the site.
According to planning documents, the new scheme is designed around retaining the original traditional facade as well as retaining an element of the retail function on the ground floor.
« The status quo of keeping the building as is – simply unacceptable and if maintained would result in a very disappointing situation for Ireland’s second city for which there is ambition nationally to double its size in order to counterbalance a Dublin-centric approach to development, » the documents state.
“To be taken seriously as a city, we need scale, and developments like this will help realize the vision of Cork and its city center to become a sustainable urban destination and thrive as an economic driver for the region.”
In pre-planning discussions with City Council, planners said the current proposal was a « significant improvement » over the previous one. They also said that the different building heights, a mix of three stories, four stories, six stories and seven stories and their bouncy nature would work well on the site.
The planning documents also highlight the need to place jobs and staffing in areas well connected to public transportation. “If there is any chance of that happening, reducing reliance on the car is key – the proposed development will contribute to a compact city center in a highly sustainable area of the city, with transportation in favor of walking, cycling and public use for commuting.”
“Employment on the outskirts of the city and in district centers is positive of course, but they do not support the city’s major retailers and the hospitality and food and beverage sector which is a key component of every successful city.
“Ensuring that the city center has a critical mass of visitors, tourists and employees is critical not only in these uncertain times but also generally as a public transportation hub, the city is accessible from all major settlements and is therefore the most sustainable place to locate a business” .
The architect for the Queen’s Old Castle development is O’Mahony Pike led by Conor Kinsella, the planners are Butler O’Neill led by Clara O’Neill and the engineers are Arup. A planning decision on the application is expected by the end of September.
Clarendon owns a number of prime properties in Cork. In partnership with Bam, they recently developed the Dean Hotel near Kent Railway Station and the adjacent office complex on Horgan’s Quay.
They also own Wilton and Merchant’s Quay shopping malls with planning permission for their redevelopment.
In June, Clarendon introduced a new planning application to reconfigure the interior of the historic Savoy Building, significantly expanding the former Quills Store, incorporating some of the smaller units that had been located within the center. A decision on that request is expected later this month.
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