The €80m concert and event centre proposed for Cork has cleared its final planning hurdle following the rejection of an appeal.
An Bord Pleanála has upheld the decision made in October by Cork City Council to grant permission for the long-stalled project.
However, a separate legal case challenging the €50m State funding package is still before the courts.
In 2018, construction firm BAM lodged fresh plans for a 6,000-capacity events centre on the southern end of the former Beamish & Crawford brewery site.
Cork City Council subsequently asked BAM to modify its proposal as it had “serious concerns” about the extent of “dead frontage” arising from the lack of live uses on South Main St.
Following the submission of revised drawings, planners granted permission for the development.
However, that decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by a third party who said the scale of the planned event centre was out of character for the city and would represent overdevelopment of the historic core of Cork.
Bam has also appealed one of the conditions which directs it to make a special contribution of almost €1.7m towards the cost of two pedestrian bridges
It has argued that the bridge at Crosses Green was already included in the city council’s development plan.
However, An Bord Pleanála’s planning inspector disagreed.
“It is my view that the payment of a special contribution towards the construction of two pedestrian bridges from the site to French’s Quay and Crosse’s Green and public realm improvements at the western landings of both bridges and on South Main Street would be appropriate,” they said.
The planning inspector also said the event centre would not have a negative impact on the archaeological history of the site.
The planning board granted permission for the development in line with the inspector’s report.
While planning permission is now in place, there remains a legal challenge to the State’s planned €50m investment in the project.
Gleneagle Hotel (Killarney) Ltd, the owners of the Irish National Event Centre (INEC) in Killarney have sought court orders suspending the decision of Cork City Council to award the contract to Bam Contractors Ltd. They also want an order declaring the decision of the council was unlawful.
Central to the case is the €50m in public funds now to be ploughed into the project. Cork City Council rejects all the allegations.
The case is due to come before the Commercial Court in May.