Project that includes Cork city’s biggest hotel gets go-ahead

Ambitious plans for a development that will include Cork’s largest hotel have been given the go-ahead by An Bord Pleanála.

The planning appeals board recommended that planning be granted to BAM Property Ltd for its mixed-use scheme on the site of the now demolished government buildings complex on Sullivan’s Quay.

The project includes a 220-bed hotel in a 12-storey (44m) cylindrical tower, and a six-storey office block providing almost 8,000 sq m of office space.

BAM, which wants to build a 6,000-seat events centre nearby, was not available for comment.

The firm acquired the Sullivan’s Quay site from the Revenue Commissioners in 2006 and was granted planning in 2009 for offices and a 183-bed hotel. That project was shelved during the economic crash.

It lodged new plans last year for a larger hotel and taller tower after securing a “premium international hotel brand” to operate it.

City planners said at the time that the slight increase in the proposed tower height was acceptable, making it more “elegant and slender”, with little material difference to the visual impact on protected views. Planning was granted last November subject to 32 conditions.

That decision was appealed to An Bord Pleanála by An Taisce and Deirdre Condon, owner of The Arch, the Griffith College building on neighbouring Drinan St.

Ms Condon’s appeal included concerns about the long-term structural implications for buildings on Drinan St, and the impact the BAM project might have on the operation of the college.

An Taisce’s appeal claimed the BAM development was “excessive in height and scale” for the city centre location, would impact on important heritage features locally, and on several protected views.

In his report, inspector Kevin Moore said a similar scheme had been permitted in 2006 and many of the concerns in the current appeals had been dealt with before.

He noted the increased tower height, but said: “If anything, the increased height of the proposed tower strengthens the visual impact and better qualifies the closure of the vista from Grand Parade.”

In relation to An Taisce’s concerns about the scheme’s impact on heritage and architecture, he said: “The notion that new development should ultimately genuflect to protected structures within a vibrant city centre quarter that requires to evolve cannot reasonably by accepted in this instance.”

The project is one of several hotel projects planned or under way in the city which are set to add almost 1,200 extra guest beds to the city’s stock of hotel beds.

The new 165-bed Maldron Hotel on Beasley St/South Mall is under construction, the Metropole’s 217-bed extension, The M, has planning permission, the permitted HQ scheme on Horgan’s Quay includes a hotel, there are plans for a new hotel as part of the Wilton Shopping Centre revamp, the Kingsley Hotel has planning for 63 new bedrooms, and a 96-bed ‘floatel’ at Penrose Quay has been given the go-ahead.

Experts say 1,000 new hotel beds will deliver an estimated €60m to the local economy every year, based on €200 spend per person per day based on 80% occupancy.

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