Fast track planning permission is being sought this week for a 17-storey apartment tower, on Cork city’s South Link Road, on a compact site previously a rail track goods yard and sidings.
The application for 118 apartments aimed at the Build to Rent (BTR) sector will be made directly to An Bord Pleanala for the development, on a 0.8 acre site, linking to Rockborough Road by Bord Gais’s HQ, and to the South Link pedestrian bridge linking to Hibernian Road towards Anglesea Street.
Being christened Railway Gardens and promoted by the Scally family who own the site and the adjoining business OB Heating, the site previously had planning permission granted in 2008 for offices.
Architects for the design are Cork-based Meitheal Design Partners, who say Railway Gardens “has been several years in the making, and we are fully down the line with the application ready to go in this week.”
The application for the Build to Rent Railway Gardens comes as John Cleary Developments (JCD) seek permission for a €90m 25-storey apartment tower on Albert Quay, next to the Elysian on the site of the Sextant Bar and Carey Tool Hire.
Now proposed by the Scallys are 118 apartments, in a six-storey block, a stand-alone four-storey block on Rockborough Road with own-door duplexes, and a 17-storey tower in the northwest corner.
There’ll be a concierge service, as per the BTR norm, as well as gym, amenity spaces, some open gardens and bicycle parking, but no car parking provision is being made, after prior consultations with City Hall and with An Bórd Pleanála.
The promoters say the design addressed some current anti-social activities by the bridge “which will be completely re-landscaped and opened up to provide excellent passive overlooking, connecting into a plaza type entrance to the apartments.”
The Railway Gardens tower will be 58.5m tall, shorter than the Elysian’s 68 metres (or 71m with antenna), and falls just shorter too than the 16-storey office tower The Prism, by the bus station, which has planning permission granted for a height of 64.5 metres.
Other tall structures mooted for Cork include one of 34 storeys for an hotel, on the Port of Cork site, which is currently in the planning process, while a 413-units apartment development planned by McCarthy Developments for Jacobs Island in Mahon has permission for a 25-storey tall tower: that site is quietly being marketed for sale, it’s understood.
The proposed Railway Gardens site is currently used for surface-level parking, and adjoins the South Link Service Station, which was redeveloped and upgraded last year, and which is partly owned by OB Heating’s Seamus Scally. Other businesses on the short stretch by the South Link include OB Heating, D Canny car sales and AR Brownlow, engineering supplies.
It’s just 200 metres from the 17-storey tall Elysian building, which was completed in 2008, now owned by US-based Kennedy Wilson, who’ve recently built Ireland’s tallest building, the 79m high Capital Docks on Liffeyside, and will integrate an enclosed two-storey shared amenity space built around the existing stone and brick railway arches on the site “maintaining an important link to the industrial heritage of the site from when it formed part of the railway network, says Meitheal Design Partners architect Luke Hickson.
Coincidentally, Leeside’s Elysian was also built on a site associated with the West Cork Railway, the Albert Street station beside Cork City Hall on Eglinton Street, with that three-acre site later occupied by an An Post mails sorting office.
A spokesperson for Railway Garden said the main entrance will connect to the South Link’s pedestrian bridge and to Rockborough Road, and the development will include open/shared social spaces, working spaces, dedicated storage spaces and rentable rooms.
The site was the last link to the West Cork Railway, which ran from Albert Quay out as far as Bantry in the west, as well as to Baltimore, Kinsale and other destinations. It ran from 1849, and the rail service stopped on April 1, 1961, with the line taken up.
The former rail line from Albert Street was repurposed for traffic and opened in 1985 as the N27 from the city centre to the Kinsale Road roundabout and the N40, and goes on then to Cork Airport.