Cork City Council staff have been availing of 120 free parking spaces on a first-come-first-served basis at Navigation House on Albert Quay since the sale of the former council property to development firm O’Callaghan Properties in 2008.
A controversial condition of the €9.2m sale, which was criticised at the time by the Green Party, was that the council would continue to avail of the free parking on the two-acre site. However, the Irish Examiner has learnt that the council was told two weeks ago that it has to vacate the parking spaces by June 1 so that work can begin on a huge office block which recently received planning permission.
However, it emerged yesterday that the council has secured an extension of the arrangement until June 23.
The deal is ending after the withdrawal of objections in March to O’Callaghan Properties €90m Navigation Square office project across several sites on Albert Quay, including Navigation House.
Once complete, the project will have capacity for 3,000 workers and will be the largest office scheme in the city centre.
In an email to staff, which has been seen by the Irish Examiner, council chief executive, Ann Doherty, said her management team has agreed that an “immediate interim solution” be put in place for the staff who park at Navigation House while an internal ‘partnership committee’ works on “medium and long-term policies to guide the provision of staff parking going forward”.
While this work is underway, a free parking deal has been offered to affected staff. Spaces will be made available free of charge in the Black Ash park-and-ride site, or in the council-owned North Main Street carpark until August 31 to staff who up to now have parked in Navigation House, Ms Doherty said. She defended the arrangement: “The O’Callaghan Properties development will bring thousands of much-needed jobs to Cork city. In my role, I have a commitment to the economic development of Cork city and also to staff at Cork City Council and the short-term provision of alternative parking to staff was a decision that balanced these two roles.”
City management has now agreed to consult staff on the development of a policy, due by the end of July, “to guide the allocation” of parking spaces from September 1.
Impact assistant general secretary, Hilary Kelleher, who represents about 300 clerical, admin and technical staff in City Hall, said staff weren’t consulted on the interim parking arrangement: “Our members are extremely frustrated by the situation and we have written to the chief executive setting out our views. This parking is something they’ve always had, and was always available to them, even before the Navigation House arrangement.
“We are endeavouring to engage with management to find a long-term solution. The key issue is to identify what alternative arrangement will the council put in place in the long-term to replace this facility.”
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