By Conor Kane
The way is clear for the transformation of a long-neglected quarter of Waterford City following the withdrawal of objections to a major development on the North Quays.
Waterford City and County Council had secured government funding of over €60m to support the regeneration of the North Quays.
The plan includes a pedestrian bridge across the River Suir, an electronic rail system, and new educational facilities. It is envisaged that the public funds will pave the way for a €300m commercial and residential development by the Saudi group Fawaz Alhokair.
Bord Pleanála was on the verge of holding an oral hearing on the mixed-use development which includes business, residential, and commercial plans.
However, board inspector Hugh Mannion said before the hearing got underway in the city that the last objections to the county and city council’ Strategic Development Zone plan had been withdrawn. There was, therefore, no obstacle to granting planning permission.
The last objection was from Eddie Lynch, owner of a service station in nearby Ferrybank, who had been concerned about the proposed compulsory purchase of his premises. He withdrew his complaint after discussions this week.
The other objection, from Cheekpoint resident Pat Moran which had raised concerns about the effects for cruise ship traffic, was withdrawn earlier in the week.
The €60m in government funding will pay for infrastructural work needed on the north bank of the river.
Waterford council CEO Michael Walsh welcomed news of the withdrawal of the objections and said he expects planning permission to be granted in September or October. Work could start in the first quarter of next year, with 2021 the anticipated completion date for the first phase.
"Certainty it is what everybody looks for, particularly investors, and in that context, it’s a really great step,” Mr Walsh told WLRFM’s Déise AM.