Cork County Board is facing planning questions over the use of conference facilities at the revamped Páirc Uí Chaoimh.
Cork City Council confirmed yesterday that its planning department has formally asked the GAA body to confirm that it is conforming to a specific condition which says the use of these facilities should be linked to the site’s primary use as a sports facility.
A county board spokesman confirmed it received the letter: “The stadium is responding to the city council categorically stating that Páirc Uí Chaoimh is fully compliant with all planning conditions.”
The Irish Examiner has learned that the issues related to “condition three” — one of several conditions attached to the city council’s grant of planning for the €80m stadium project.
The condition, which relates to the conference and meeting rooms, provides that “all uses hereby permitted shall be ancillary to the principal use of the site as a sports facility”.
While it was not appealed, the condition was discussed during the Bord Pleanála oral hearing.
Counsel for the county board said it “unreasonably restricts the use of the proposed development” by preventing, for example, local non-sporting organisations from using the new meeting rooms.
The county board said meeting rooms in the old stadium had been used for non-sporting uses such as private functions and events.
And it argued that “condition three” should be removed because there would be no different planning impacts from 450 people using the conference facilities for GAA-related events and 450 local residents discussing non-sports related topics.
However, the board inspector said its significance is central to the traffic management arrangements for the entire development, including car parking, which may spill over from the site into surrounding areas during night-time events.
In his final report, the inspector recommended that condition three remain in place: “This is not to say that a permission to widen the proposed uses along the lines sought by the applicant may not be appropriate where the applicant can demonstrate that day time/evening traffic/parking congestion would not arise.”
Several dinners and events have been held in the stadium’s conference facilities in recent months, including the Cork Business Association’s annual awards night.
A spokesperson for the city council said it wrote to the county board on January 17 seeking information in relation to condition three; had received a confirmation of receipt; and is awaiting a detailed response.
News of this planning issue comes just days after it emerged there is a standoff between both sides over how much the GAA should contribute towards the cost of upgrading public lighting around the new stadium.
City Hall says the work could cost up to €700,000. The county board has offered to contribute €60,000.
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