GAA and council under fire over Páirc Uí Chaoimh demolition

Cork City Council has been accused of giving the GAA “the freedom to do what they choose” after the developers of the new Páirc Uí Chaoimh demolished existing stands that were to be retained, according to the planning permission conditions granted to the project.

The local authority has confirmed it gave the go-ahead for the demolition of the terraces at the Blackrock and city ends of the stadium, despite the original planning permission only including the partial removal of the fixtures.

Cork City Council senior planner Kevin Lynch said the developers contacted the council about issues at the Blackrock and City terraces in October, and proposed replacing the steps at both terraces “instead of overlaying and relaying steps as originally envisaged on the basis that the issues compromised the site”.

“During the works to remove this terracing it was discovered that there was widespread lack of cover to steel reinforcement to sections of the terracing, with many steel bars corroded,” Mr Lynch said.

“There were also issues with the dislodgement of plastic spaces used to provide cover to reinforcement during the casting of the concrete. The applicant confirmed that the layout of each terrace will be as per the permitted plans and elevations.

“The city council considered the matter and were satisfied that the modification did not constitute a material change from the permitted development and that they had no objection to these works,” he said.

However, Denis O’Regan of the Save Marina Park group said the demolition is in breach of the planning terms set by Bord Pleanála.

“The council decision to allow the continued demolition of the stadium is a breach of planning and it appears the GAA now have the freedom to do what they choose,” Mr O’Regan said.

“The demolition schedule was for 15 weeks, work started on-site in April and, nine months on, the demolition continues. The planning process is there so all stakeholders understand what’s happening. This is clearly now not the case. Are the GAA now free to change the plans as they go along and not comply with the planning permission set down by An Bord Pleanála?” he said.

It is the second time that unplanned demolition works on the stadium has caused controversy with locals.

Last July, the council said it gave permission for the stadium developers to knock Páirc Uí Chaoimh Northern Stand. In that instance the corrosion of steel reinforcements was also cited as cause for demolishing the stand that was supposed to be retained.

“If you or I planned to extend and refurbish our properties, and after receiving planning permission, were then advised that demolishing the structure would be the best way forward, a new planning application would be required so that your neighbours and all other stakeholders are aware of what’s happening,” Mr O’Regan said.

“If you didn’t it wouldn’t be long before you’re up in the High Court and ordered to stop work by a judge while he reviews all details of the project. The original design was for one new stand, now that the entire stadium is being demolished a redesign and new planning application should be submitted so Cork gets the stadium it deserves,” Mr O’Regan said.

“A new design would better take advantage of the site, and the fact that the old stadium has been demolished, allowing the potential of the Marina Park be realised.

“The current design has one stand at the south at 40m towering over the north stand and terraces by 20m. This is poor design considering the stadium has now been levelled,” he said.

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