Tánaiste welcomes revised planning application for enlarged Cork events centre

The Tánaiste has welcomed news tonight of a new planning application for an enlarged Cork events centre.

Simon Coveney said he is confident the plans, which should emerge over the next 24-hours, will show the scale and ambition of a project which has been dogged by controversy for almost three years.

Tánaiste Simon Coveney.

He said confirmation from developers BAM this evening that they intend lodging a new planning application also proves the amount of work which has been underway for several months to get the project to this point.

"This is something that has been worked on for some time. I know people have been frustrated by the slow progress on this project but this is a very welcome development," he said this evening.

"There are a lot of moving parts in this project and they are all moving forward positively.

When people see the scale and ambition of this enlarged project, it will show just how transformational it will be for the city and the region.

BAM, it is understood, has spent in the region of €500,000 preparing the new planning application which will seek permission for a slight change of design from the previously permitted events centre and arena on the former Beamish and Crawford site on South Main St.

It's a major step towards delivering the proposed 6,000-capacity venue which has been mired in controversy for almost three years.

The new application is designed to facilitate the construction of an enlarged and more flexible events and conference centre and arena, as well as associated logistical support offices on the site.

It is understood that architects have managed to design an enlarged venue without making significant changes to what was previously permitted on the site.

Lord Mayor, Cllr Mick Finn, declined to pre-empt the actual lodging of a planning application but said the project is showing ‘great signs of life’ again after renewed efforts from all parties.

He said he had spoken with those involved in recent days, and added: “Progress on such a piviotal project for Cork and the region is welcome and I remain confident - as stated in my speech upon election as Lord Mayor - that this will happen."

Cork Chamber chief executive, Conor Healy, welcomed news of the new planning application.

"Significant work has been undertaken by all involved over recent months to develop a sustainable project culminating in a new application for a redesigned facility which will transform the Cork city centre economy," he said.

We look forward to the project being widely supported to ensure it can get into construction phase without any undue delay.

It will be four years this December since some €20m in state-aid - €12m from government and €8m from the Cork city council - was sanctioned after BAM won a competitive tender bid.

Former Taoiseach Enda Kenny turned the sod on the project on the site in February 2016.

But when venue operator, Live Nation, came on board, a complete redesign was ordered to make the venue financially viable, and costs soared.

It led to a request for an additional €10m of state funding, which is still being considered by government.

That request led to protracted and complex technical and legal assessments and analysis of the entire project.

Amid fears the scheme had hit the rocks, BAM moved last February to allay fears, insisting that a funding deal had been agreed in principle.

But with no public signs of progress, fears continued to mount that the project might never happen.

The Tanaiste, who has repeatedly insisted that the project will be delivered, said confirmation that a planning application is now being lodged should give people reassurance.

It is understood that a decision on the additional state aid is expected in mid-September.

BAM and Live Nation have committed at least another €10m to the project.

BAM is currently building student apartments on the Beamish and Crawford site and on Cork's Western Rd.

It is also building a huge control tower at Dublin Airport, and is poised to start work on the massive HQ mixed development on Cork's Horgan's Quay, and a hotel and office development on the city's Sullivan's Quay.


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