The long-awaited Events Centre in Cork has been delayed once again, following the City Council’s decision to grant construction company BAM’s request for more time to address planner’s questions on the project.
News of the delay came as Tánaiste Simon Coveney expressed his ‘fear’ that frustrations over the ongoing delays would see the Event Centre become a ‘political football’ ahead of May’s local elections.
More than three years have passed since Mr Coveney, along with then-Taoiseach Enda Kenny and Tánaiste Joan Burton, turned the sod on the Event Centre at a photoshoot ahead of the 2016 General Election.
However, works on the Event Centre on the site of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery have since stalled due to rising construction costs and issues over the size of State funding towards the project.
Last August, BAM sought to amend the planning permission granted to the project, and submitted a request to increase the height of the Event Centre and the office space within the development. Planners responded by seeking further information such as the proposed duration of construction and details on entrances and access points.
BAM was given a deadline of April 3 by which they were to have submitted this information, but have since applied for and have been granted a three-month extension.
It now has until July 3 to address planners’ concerns - after which they, in turn, will have four weeks to decide whether or not to give the proposal their approval.
Speaking on the issue this week, Mr Coveney said he understands frustrations around the project, but that issues such as the planning process and the funding of the project must be resolved properly: “There will be meetings in the coming days, as there are regularly on the Event Center, and what we're trying to do is establish how the State puts €30 million into this project in a way that's legally consistent with the original tendering process. My fear is that, because of the frustration linked to this project not moving ahead, it could be turned into a political football in the build-up to local elections.
"I think that would make it even more difficult then to finalise all of these issues."
"The legal advice Cork City Council has is slightly different to the legal advice that the AG's office has given, and we're trying to resolve those issues. And it's taking time, but I can totally understand why pubs and clubs and cafes and restaurants and hotels in the city are saying, 'look enough is enough, we've got to move this thing forward'. I'm with them on that, but we've got to do it in a way that doesn't result in a legal challenge that results in even more delays,” he said.