Planning enforcement proceedings have been initiated against developers BAM for the storage for over a year of a rubble mountain on a Cork city centre site.
The city council’s planning department confirmed that it has issued a warning letter to the company in relation to the material left following the demolition of the landmark former Revenue Commissioner’s building on Sullivan’s Quay last year.
A spokesperson for the planning directorate said while the company has levelled the mound to reduce its visual impact, the response doesn’t deal with the substantive issue.
Confirmation that the city has escalated its response to the long-running issue comes just a few weeks after city council chief executive, Ann Doherty, told councillors that a “process of engagement” is underway with the developers on the matter.
BAM acquired the Sullivan’s Quay site from the Revenue Commissioners in 2006 and was granted planning permission in 2009 for offices and a 183-bed hotel. That project was shelved during the economic crash.
In 2017, BAM was granted planning for a bigger scheme to include a 220-bed hotel in a 12-storey cylindrical tower, and a six-storey 8,000 sq m office block - a decision which was subsequently appealed. During the appeal process, the developers allowed an artists’ collective to use the vacant office block before demolition began in March 2018 and was completed by May.
An Bórd Pleanála subsequently upheld the council’s planning decision but construction has yet to start. The rubble mound from the demolition phase remains on site.
Last January, City Hall gave BAM until mid-March to deal with it but the Irish Examiner has learned that City Hall has now triggered enforcement proceedings.
It has emerged that representatives of BAM were called to a meeting with senior planners earlier this year where planners outlined in “clear terms” what is expected of the firm in relation to its management of the site.
The planning department issued a warning letter on April 18 informing BAM that it is in non-compliance with the terms of its planning permission for the site - in that it is storing rubble there.
In early May, a bulldozer reduced the level of the mound to below the level of hoarding surrounding the site.
BAM responded to the council’s warning by letter on May 9 but the spokesperson for the planning department said the response was not satisfactory and the council is currently reviewing its position.
The enforcement process allows for the issuing of a second warning letter before legal action may be considered.
BAM did not respond to a request for comment.
The same developers are behind the stalled plans to build the 6,000-capacity events centre nearby.
The Planning and Development Act 2000 allows local authorities to retain any fines which may be imposed by the courts for planning offences to help finance more active planning control.