One of Ireland’s first suburban shopping centres is set for a massive €100m redevelopment, writes Eoin English.
Details of the revamp of Wilton Shopping Centre on the southside of Cork City will be unveiled by complex owners, Clarendon Properties, at a public meeting tonight.
The company declined to comment in detail ahead of the meeting but it understood its ambitious Wilton Town Centre project will focus on the northern side of the complex, and includes plans for:
The centre’s existing covered malls will be retained, unlike plans by the previous owners which were granted conditional planning by An Bord Pleanála in 2011, which included extensive demolition and the construction of up to four blocks ranging in height from four to seven storeys. The planning for that scheme is valid for another two years.
A spokesman for Clarendon said they have spent almost 18-months examining that scheme, the observations and objections, and the relevant statutory documents as they developed their new proposal.
“Our proposal resolves many of the contentious issues raised while building on the strengths of the existing centre,” he said.
“We are excited to present a scheme that maintains the existing centre malls and provides an extension to the retail offer.
“Wilton Town Centre will also incorporate a hotel and two new public plazas. We are also proposing a cinema which will act as an evening focal point and be at the centre of more lifestyle uses.”
It is hoped that pending the outcome of local consultation, a planning application could be lodged with Cork City Council within months.
But the Wilton Trader’s Association said they feel they have been kept in the dark about the plans.
“We were very disappointed with the lack of respect and common business decency shown towards the traders in Wilton by Clarendon Properties in relation to this planning proposal,” a spokesman said.
“They at no point engaged with us at any level or stage of this process to date.
“We, as an association, along with the two anchor tenants, represent the 60 shops whom in turn employ in excess of 500 people.
“Our members’ livelihoods and the 500-plus jobs all depend on the future of Wilton Shopping Centre.
“We feel that as the major ‘stakeholders’ we should have been kept in the loop on any major developments. We were not.”
The spokesman for Clarendon said they look forward to discussing their vision for the centre with the traders and local residents tonight.
This story originally appeared in the Irish Examiner