Planning has been granted for a massive expansion of Penneys' flagship store in the heart of Cork City.
The move has been hailed as a significant vote of confidence in the city.
Pending an appeal, retail giant Primark and its development partners, O’Flynn Construction, will deliver a near 50% expansion of the St Patrick’s Street store in a project which will regenerate an entire block on the city’s main street.
The store will increase in size by 17,000 sq ft to 54,000 sq ft, with the project encompassing a site that stretches from Robert St to Cook St, and from St Patrick's Street to Oliver Plunkett St.
A number of conditions have been attached, including several to protect and conserve the heritage of the site, the buildings and the visual amenity of the area, including a refusal of permission for five signs which were proposed to be fixed to the front of the buildings on St Patrick's Street, Cook St, and Oliver Plunkett St, and the retention and exposure of cast-iron columns in the former Munster Arcade, a protected structure.
O’Flynn Construction has supported Primark throughout the planning and development process, and helped with site assembly, estimated to have cost more than €30m.
The grant of planning on Wednesday follows a lengthy consideration of the application lodged last August, and which included a request for further information amid planners' concerns about the potential impact of the scheme on the built heritage of the area.
In response, Primark said the project would draw more visitors to the city, would help to reduce the number of vacant premises in the city, and would have no material impact on the diversity of units in the city.
Cork Chamber chief executive Conor Healy welcomed the decision.
“This is an important strategic retail site in the heart of the city," he said. "This decision will provide additional confidence to retail development in the city centre."
Meanwhile, on the neighbouring block, the original limestone facade of the former Victoria Hotel has been revealed as work on its redevelopment as a four-storey retail development advances.
Victoria Hotel - when Southgate Associates Conservation Consultants discovered beautiful Cork limestone below layers of waterproof paint there was no option but to carry out a best practice conservation repair, cleaning and pointing project. #conservation #CorkCity #limestone pic.twitter.com/G5wtRTrxL4— Southgate Associates (@SouthgateAssoc1) May 18, 2022