Key figures in Cork’s business and hospitality sectors have asked to meet developers, BAM, to seek reassurances about the stalled event centre project.
The Cork Business Association (CBA), as well as representatives of the city’s vintners, hoteliers and restaurateurs also plan to maintain pressure on the developers, the local authority, political leaders and the government in a bid to ensure the remaining hurdles blighting the project are overcome.
“There is a lot of anxious talk about the economy at the moment and lots of businesses in Cork are depending on this project,” CBA president, Philip Gillivan said.
“We need to understand what exactly is going on here and what needs to be done to ensure this is built.”
This move follows the latest and unexpected delay to the beleaguered project which has seen costs soar from €50m to nearly €80m.
On Monday, it emerged that a planning decision on the enlarged venue, which was due this week, has been deferred because a new environmental report is required.
Planners have told BAM they must submit a Natura Impact Statement (NIS) to address the potential direct and indirect impacts of the event centre development on two EU protected habitats several miles downstream.
BAM has been given six months to respond but it is understood that they plan to deal with it quickly. Once it's submitted, planners must issue a decision within two months.
It is understood this is the only outstanding planning issue, fuelling hopes that a positive planning decision may issue.
The CBA met city council chief executive, Ann Doherty, on Wednesday, for a briefing on the latest complication.
CBA president, Philip Gillivan, said they are now planning a sustained campaign, in association with the Irish Hotels Federation (IHF) Cork, the Vintners Federation Cork (VFI) and the Restaurant Association of Ireland Cork (RAI) to ensure the venue is delivered.
In February, the Cork branch of the IHF called for “absolute confirmation” on event centre delivery. Ten days later, the IHF, VFI and RAI issued a joint statement calling for “certainty, accountability and meaningful communication” on the project.
The Construction Industry Federation (CIF) also warned this week that delays in infrastructure projects in the south, including the event centre, will have repercussions for the wider economy.
It said bureaucracy and the Government’s procurement system has hindered the pace of growth in the region: “The Government has told us that Cork and cities in the south and west need to grow at twice the rate of Dublin over the next 20 years. To achieve this, we would need to see a significant increase in investment in infrastructure today to have any chance of achieving a balanced Ireland."
It also mentioned the Dunkettle interchange, the M20 and M28 roads projects.