City manager Tim Lucey said he will now begin work on detailed designs for the first phase of the proposed Marina Park — an 85-acre Phoenix Park-style amenity in the city’s docklands which will wrap around the southern side of the stadium — focusing on the former Showgrounds site in Ballintemple.
He said the Cork County Board is poised to begin formal pre-planning talks with city planners this week on their stadium regeneration plans.
A planning application from the GAA, which Mr Lucey said will have to include a detailed traffic management and parking plan, could be lodged with City Hall before the end of the year.
City councillors finally approved the draft masterplan for Marina Park — which incorporates the GAA’s plans for an extension and refurbishment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, and the development of a centre of excellence next to the stadium — following consideration of 32 valid submissions received since the plan went on public display four weeks ago.
Mr Lucey said that 25 submissions were in favour of the overall park project.
The seven submissions against raised concerns which can be dealt with in the context of the Part 8 process in relation of the first phase of the park, or as part of the GAA’s planning application, he said.
Some councillors criticised the decision to proceed despite some local concerns about the centre of excellence severing the proposed park, and while traffic management issues remained unresolved, but most councillors welcomed the project.
Cllr Sean Martin said: “We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to develop an iconic sporting stadium next to a new public park. The revamped stadium could help attract future rugby world cups to Ireland.”
After debating the issue for an hour, councillors approved the park masterplan, 23 votes to five.
Mr Lucey said he will now bring forward a Part 8 planning proposal for the entire former Showgrounds site “at an early date”.
The Cork County Board will, subject to planning, pay €1.7m for seven acres of publicly owned land around the stadium which is earmarked for an all-weather pitch and centre of excellence.
It equates to about €250,000 per acre — substantially above the €90,000 market value of land in that area.
The stadium revamp includes an extension to the stadium’s covered stand, increasing spectator capacity from 43,500 to 50,000.
The extension will include new player and referee changing rooms, corporate boxes, medical rooms, a gym and a restaurant, and a museum.
The GAA has said the project could be completed within two years of securing planning permission, and create up to 300 construction jobs.