Work on Bishopstown credit union site halted over Dunnes stand-off

The artist's impression of what the new Bishopstown Credit Union on Curraheen Rd would look like.

Work on one of country’s most expensive credit union headquarters has ground to a halt in a stand-off with Dunnes Stores.

Bishopstown Credit Union (BCU) in Cork City has now triggered legal action in a bid to resolve the impasse which has delayed the development of a new €4.1m headquarters on the Curraheen Rd.

BCU went to Cork District Court yesterday to apply for an order of works in a bid to resume work on the site of the former Viscount Bar. The matter has been deferred for a week.

While the bar has been demolished, the construction site is lying idle. The stand-off has prevented BCU from putting the construction project out to tender, and delayed the development by up to nine months, said BCU chief executive Ray Kenny.

He said BCU’s management had tried to negotiate a resolution with Dunnes, which owns a neighbouring retail centre, without success.

He said: “We have full planning permission to develop the new credit union branch. We have arrangements with and the support of our various neighbours — with the exception of one. We tried to engage with Dunnes Stores. Local management were approachable but when the matter went to Dublin, issues arose.”

BCU bought the former Viscount Bar, located next to a Dunnes Stores-owned retail centre, and unveiled plans last July to develop a headquarters on the site.

The Dunnes site is being pursued by city planners for regeneration. Two months ago, it emerged that a 2008 conditional grant of planning for the demolition of the retail complex, and the development of a mixed-use scheme, was extended last December to December 2019.

Planners wrote to Dunnes several months ago inquiring about its plans for the site, but as of May, there had been no response.

 The site of the former Viscount Bar. Picture: Denis Scannell
The site of the former Viscount Bar. Picture: Denis Scannell

There was some controversy last year when BCU announced the development plans. But the board of directors said the reduction of its branch network from four a decade ago to two — at Wilton Shopping Centre and the new head office on Curraheen Rd — would result in reduced fixed costs of some €480,000 every year.

It said the cost of buying and developing the Curraheen Rd site would be around €5.8m, with the sale of existing premises estimated to reach €1.7m, leaving a net cost to BCU of €4.1m to be written off over the expected life of the new building.

The board also said at the time that BCU was in a very strong financial position with assets of €130m, and another surplus expected.

Founded in 1967, BCU has 25,000 members and is one of the largest community-based credit unions in Cork.


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