Cork's events centre to start in 2018, developers insist

The developers of Cork’s proposed €73m events centre have again insisted work will begin on site by the end of this year, despite no agreement yet on a funding deal.

Cork's events centre to start in 2018, developers insist

It emerged at this week’s meeting of Cork City Council that a deal to get the events centre built on part of the old Beamish & Crawford brewery site has yet to be finalised with the developers BAM Property Ltd and its partners, Live Nation.

In February, BAM and Tánaiste Simon Coveney — a Cork South Central TD — insisted a deal to secure the funding was imminent. But councillors bemoaned ongoing delays when officials told them on Monday that there is still no agreement on what share of the cost is to be paid from public or private sources.

BAM Ireland said yesterday that the funding gap, both private and public, has almost closed and the company is confident that funding to progress the project will be available.

“We expect construction to be able to start during quarter four of this year,” its statement said.

Cork City Council head of planning Pat Ledwidge told councillors on Monday that there was no definite start date for the events centre, but that all parties were willing to continue to a final agreement that bridges the funding gap.

The events centre is to be built on the southern zone of the 3.5-acre site, but work began on a student accommodation scheme at the northern end of the Brewery Quarter development on South Main St in November. BAM Property Ltd should know by tomorrow if its application to add an extra floor to that element is permitted by the council, which would see the number of student bed spaces increased from the 413 already permitted to 455.

The company got permission last week to replace a seven-screen cinema previously approved for the centre portion of the site, where the facade of the existing Counting House office building will be retained. Instead, increased office space is to be provided there, as offices proposed for the northern zone were replaced by more student accommodation than was originally permitted in 2011.

The conditions attached to the revised permission for the Counting House include requirements around minimum space to be dedicated to cultural use, and provisions that BAM provide appropriate space for exhibition of archaeological discoveries on the site and in relation to its industrial heritage.

Despite public criticisms of the removal of cinema use, Mr Ledwidge assured council members on Monday that nothing granted planning on the site to date contravenes the city development plan. He said the various planning changes are a result of changing market conditions.

Meanwhile, the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht insisted it is still engaging with the council in relation to state investment in the events centre despite the project’s omission from its €1.2bn Investing in our Culture, Language and Heritage plan launched yesterday. It said the plan sets out indicative investment levels for the national cultural institutions, including €22m for Cork’s Crawford Art Gallery.

“These are the only cultural institutions with specific indicative figures set against them. However, the plan will also support investment in many other cultural projects around the country which are not detailed in the plan,” said a spokesperson.

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From florist to fraudster, leaving a trail of destruction from North Cork, to Waterford, to Clare, to Wexford and through the midlands ... learn how mistress of re-invention, Catherine O'Brien, scammed her way around rural Ireland.

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