THE chairman of Cork County Board has promised to consult with residents who live near Páirc Uí Chaoimh as work starts on the €40 million redesign of the flagship stadium.
Bob Ryan said last night public consultation will be a key part of the process ahead of an expected planning application in June. “Our plan is to proceed without delay,” Mr Ryan said. “We are hopeful, that without major planning issues, to start building by the end of this year.”
The GAA plans to upgrade the ageing stadium to bring its facilities into line with modern sports grounds. Its covered stand will be extended, increasing spectator capacity from 43,500 to just over 45,000.
The extension will include new player and referee changing rooms, corporate boxes, medical rooms, a gym and a restaurant.
The centre of excellence, earmarked for a portion of the former Showgrounds site alongside the stadium, will include an all-weather floodlit playing pitch and a small seated stand.
The revamped stadium will be able to cater for concerts hosting up to 60,000 people.
But the project is facing opposition from residents’ groups in the Ballintemple and Blackrock areas who claim they are already “under siege” on big match days from “ignorant GAA fans.”
They have complained about fans urinating in private gardens, of fans “abandoning” their cars on residential green areas, and of indiscriminate parking.
Other residents have expressed concerns that the bad parking could block emergency vehicles, and have described the GAA as “bad neighbours”.
The Blackrock Village Residents’ Association has now been set up to coordinate local concerns and to liaise with GAA chiefs.
Cllr Des Cahill (FG) said the group is not against the redevelopment of the stadium and is willing to work with the GAA.
But Mr Cahill said he felt the proposed centre of excellence should not be developed on the earmarked site at the expense of the planned Marina Park.
Mr Ryan said he has already met some residents to discuss the stadium revamp and he pledged last night the GAA is committed to meeting residents again during the consultation process.
The design team, led by project managers Malachy Walsh and Partners, is now working on the detailed design.
Mr Ryan said the team should be ready within a matter of weeks to announce details of the public consultation.
The architects are Scott Tallon Walker and the engineering consultants are Malachy Walsh and Partners. The planning consultants are Cunnane Stratton Reynolds, and the quantity surveyor is the Michael Barrett Partnership.
They will prepare a comprehensive planning application for submission to Cork City Council.
However, the council may have to rezone a parcel of land outside the stadium to facilitate the development of the proposed centre of excellence.
The major construction project, which could take up to two years, will create up to 300 jobs.
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