It would be “completely unnecessary” to demolish the historic Vernon Mount House despite the damage done to it by a recent fire, according to the co-owner of the site, writes Kelly O’Brien.
Olaf Maxwell, a quantity surveyor based in Cork, owns half of Vernon Mount House and its grounds. The other half is owned by a company called Massilla Limited.
“I remain completely opposed to the demolition of Vernon Mount House and, in my professional capacity as a quantity surveyor, regard such a move as completely unnecessary, even despite the extent of damage,” said Mr Maxwell.
“I do not see a need at this time for the demolition of what remains one of Cork’s greatest landmarks. When the relevant reports become available I will be meeting with Cork County Council to explore this issue.”
Mr Maxwell said he is currently awaiting the results of forensic testing carried out at the site following the fire which ravaged the building on Sunday night.
He said he was gutted by the loss of the house and found the situation to be extremely distressing.
“I was very distressed at the event as we had just recently made some further works to prevent anything of this nature happening and we were satisfied the house was fully protected against random vandalism,” he said.
Mr Maxwell has been a co-owner of the site since it came on the market in 1997.
A planning application was made to Cork County Council and plans for a hotel development at the site were discussed “extensively”. The application was later refused, however, forcing the owners to redesign their plans.
In the period up to 2006, Mr Maxwell said extensive maintenance was carried out at the house by Massilla Limited, with roof works approved by the council.“During this time there were extensive discussions between my office and the council… in anticipation of future works that would open up the House to a public use,” he said.
Due to financial constraints, the process then stalled.
Hopefully, previous plans may still “see the light of day”, said Mr Maxwell.
“As joint owner and working regularly with conservation projects I would very much like to have a meaningful series of discussions with the council and the relevant bodies going forward to see where we can go from here.”
This story first appeared in the Evening Echo.