First homes at major Cork housing development available within two years

Planning was granted yesterday for the 266-unit development at the former St Kevin's site in Shanakiel, north-west of the city centre.
First homes at major Cork housing development available within two years

An artist's impression of the proposed development at the former St Kevin's Hospital site in Cork. Picture:  Cork_CGI

The first of 266 new homes which have been approved for the landmark St Kevin’s hospital site on the northside of Cork city should be available within two years.

The Land Development Agency (LDA) said work has already started on the delivery planning for the 266-unit strategic housing development (SHD) in Shanakiel, its second housing project to secure planning and its first to secure planning in Cork, following the grant of planning by An Bord Pleanála yesterday.

“It is intended to commence work on-site as soon as possible with the first homes available by 2023,” a spokesman said.

And while the tenure mix of the scheme — 46 houses and 220 apartments — has yet to be confirmed by the Government, the LDA said the primary focus will be on the delivery of social and affordable housing.

The listed red-brick St Kevin’s building, on the grounds of the former Our Lady’s Mental Hospital, will also be stabilised, converted and renovated to provide 60 apartments.

The St Kevin's facility in Cork, which was extensively damaged by fire in 2017. 	Picture: Denis Minihane.
The St Kevin's facility in Cork, which was extensively damaged by fire in 2017. Picture: Denis Minihane.

In a detailed 140-page report, a planning inspector said subject to compliance with certain conditions, the proposed development would “constitute an acceptable quantum and density of development in this accessible urban location, would not seriously injure the residential or visual amenities of the area, would be acceptable in terms of urban design highs and quantum of development, and would be acceptable in terms of impact on an area of high landscape value, protected views, a protected structure and buildings of architectural merit, traffic and pedestrian safety and convenience, ecology, flood risk and drainage”.

He said he was satisfied that the traffic impact on the surrounding urban road network would be limited.

“Traffic congestion in peak periods in an urban area such as this would be anticipated to occur and various measures and design features have been set out within the application and as part of the proposed development to support the use of public transport cycling and walking as an alternative to the use of private vehicles.”  

The board accepted his recommendation to approve the scheme and attached 36 conditions, including the omission of just one ground-floor apartment, the reduced use of painted render to the front of some of the apartment blocks to be replaced by durable quality material finishes, an extension to a proposed woodland walk on the northern boundary to Beechfield Avenue, and some minor amendments to the layout of on-site parking.

The housing to be delivered includes three and four-bedroom townhouses, and two, three and four-bedroom apartments, as well as a creche and outdoor play area, and the former chapel will be converted into an office enterprise centre.

Some structures will be demolished, including almost 3,000 sq m of former hospital buildings and associated outbuildings such as the former two-storey St Dympna’s Hospital block, some toilet blocks to the rear and contemporary stair cores to the side and rear of the St Kevin’s Hospital building; the smaller two-storey former Doctors House; the 50 sq m one storey hospital mortuary building; 480 sq m of shed buildings to the rear of the Chapel.

Artist impression of the St Kevin's Strategic Development.
Artist impression of the St Kevin's Strategic Development.

A tree survey has identified 111 of the 165 trees on the site to be removed, with 55 to be retained, including the woodland areas to the north and south of the site.

John Coleman, the LDA’s CEO, said the development will mean a secure, safe and sustainable home for hundreds of people close to Cork City.

“Our vision is for a community that provides for a mix of ages and a mix of needs,” he said.

“Our primary focus will be social and affordable housing and I expect this to be reflected in the ultimate make-up of the development.” 

City council CEO, Ann Doherty, said the planning decision was good news for all our citizens.

“In addition to supplying housing, the project will bring back to life one of the most beautiful buildings in Cork,” she said.

“While this is just the first site which the LDA will develop in Cork city, we expect it to be the first of many.” 

The LDA is also working with the city council on housing proposals for the city’s docklands area.

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