Office scheme refused at suburban Wilton

AS US-BASED internet security company FireEye last week visited Cork City and its suburbs to consider new offices for 150 jobs, and as several significant other office demands progress around the city, planning permission has just been refused by An Bord Pleanala for an 82,000 sq ft office and mixed used development in suburban Wilton.

Following objections from a local retailer, and a community association, developers O’Brien and O’Flynn have this week been refused planning for a site of six acres on Sarsfield Road, between O’Connors’ Funeral Home, and the Driving Test Centre.

It was planned to have two office blocks, service station, convenience shop, discount retail unit, plus a restaurant and drive-thru on the site, accessed off Sarsfield Road and a few hundred metres from the new Wilton Roundabout flyover and Wilton Shopping Centre.

It’s the second refusal for this site, which was rezoned by Cork County Council in 2011 after an initial ABP refusal for a scheme which had a far larger office component.

Objectors to the revised scheme — approved by the County Council over a year ago — were Togher Community Association and Kieran Whyte, owner of a convenience shop in Togher.

An Bord Pleanala agreed the proposed scheme could impact negatively on established district, local and neighbourhood centres.

And, despite suburban bus stops by the site, ABP said the area lacked a comprehensive public transport system, had limited road capacity and the proposed employment centre would be largely car-dependent. The proposed development would neither benefit from or support the major investment to expand the rail network in the region, the board added, in an echo of a previous controversial refusal it gave for new port developments in Cork’s Ringaskiddy.

Developer Denis O’Flynn of O’Brien and O’Flynn yesterday criticised this latest Bord Pleanala refusal which, he argued, removed the prospect of 400 to 500 jobs in the Wilton/Togher suburb and stated “we have a serious and credible enquiry from a large floor-plate office user, plus enquiries on all other elements in development,” adding “our firm is in a good financial position to complete this project.”

He noted that the site had a planning history now for five years, and pointed out it had take a full year for the Board to reach its latest decision. “As a developer working on the ground I cannot see how the Board could take such a negative view of this site and development, and twice refuse permission following appeals by competing commercial interests.”


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