The developers behind a proposal to build a 16-story office building on the site of the former Sextant pub on Albert Quay in Cork have been asked to address its demolition as part of a request for more information from Cork City Council.
The strip was demolished a year ago after Progressive Commercial Construction Ltd., part of the John Cleary Developments (JCD) group, was granted planning permission for a 25-story rental building project on a downtown site. The tower was to be the city’s first full-size residential scheme since the delivery of the 17-story Elysian Tower in 2008.
However, earlier this year, it emerged that the housing plan had been scrapped, after an evaluation process by consultants Deloitte. They concluded that building the apartments was not financially viable and the developer announced plans to build a 16-storey office building instead.
An office suite layout application was introduced on what is known as the Carey Tool Hire, between Navigation Square (established by O’Callaghan Properties/OCP) and 1 Albert Quay (by JCD) in May.
As part of the planning process, the Board sought additional information regarding the new proposal, including a request that the applicant address concerns regarding the demolition of the Sixth Building. The Board says it has noted that “a number of third party reports and internal referral reports” raise concerns in this regard.
“It is further noted that this demolition was raised as a point of note during the prior consultation on the implementation,” the council says.
Among the requests to the new development proposal are urban designers Judd Sherry and Frank O’Connor, directors of global design agency Anoa, who argue that under the new plan, the developer does not have permission to demolish a sixth because the current office block application “fails to include a request to demolish the NIAH building is 145 years old” and therefore the application is “invalid”.
They say that because the developer did not ask permission to demolish the pub “They are required to rebuild the sextant”.
Referring to the sextant as “NIAH Building” relates to its inclusion in the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, a database that records our built heritage, as an aid in its protection and preservation. Sextant is listed in the database as a “distinguished public house in a prominent corner site”, but that entry dates from 1993 and An Bord Pleanála recently said its heritage value has been significantly compromised by numerous modifications over the years.
Ms. Sherry and Frank O’Connor describe the sextant as having played a “key role as a route finder” in the city’s maritime history and argue that the developer should have requested permission to retain the demolition as part of the new implementation.
A number of other requests, including one from Green Cork City Council member Dan Boyle, also object to the demolition of the sextant.
A JCD Group spokesperson said the project design team is currently preparing a detailed response in response to the Council’s request for more information.
The spokesperson stressed that “the full planning permission is valid for the demolition of the sextant, and therefore the question of its retention is not on the table.”
When the city council was asked why it was seeking more information about the demolition of the sextant from the developer, given that the building had already been hit, they replied that they “could not comment on planning requests that are currently under consideration.”
“A request for more information has been issued and we are awaiting a response. The application is available for viewing on the online planning inquiry system,” the council said.
Requests for more information from developers regarding large-scale construction projects is the same cycle.
The current request also asks the developer to submit a proposal that demonstrates a revised design as construction lines recede to allow for the development of future transportation infrastructure such as bus lanes, traffic lanes, bike lanes and pedestrian lanes.
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