Cork's historic Queen's Old Castle set for major redevelopment

Retail and office buildings up to seven-storeys proposed for key city centre site 
Cork's historic Queen's Old Castle set for major redevelopment

According to the planning documents, the new scheme has been designed around retaining the original traditional facade as well as retaining an element of the ground floor retail function. Image: Model Works

New plans for the redevelopment of Cork City’s historic Queen's Old Castle building have been lodged with Cork City Council.

Under the proposals, a range of conservation, demolition, refurbishment and alteration works will take place to allow for the construction of a retail and office development up to seven storeys in height.

Located in the heart of the city centre, the former department store has been occupied by a range of different retailers in recent years. The owners of the building Clarendon Properties now propose a major redevelopment of the site that will keep the building's facade and a number of internal elements. 

If approved and constructed, the development will provide 9,728 square metres of office space and 123 square metres of retail. The developers said the proposed office space will be designed to be suitable for a single user or multiple users with subdivisions of the space.

The Queen's Old Castle department store was originally built in the 1840s. It closed in 1978 and was briefly occupied by a Penneys store before it was redeveloped as a shopping centre in 1980. It was acquired by Clarendon who converted it into two large retail units.

A previous planning application from Clarendon, through City Properties (Cork) Ltd, was granted permission in October that would have allowed for a more modest redevelopment of the site.

According to the planning documents, the new scheme has been designed around retaining the original traditional facade as well as retaining an element of the ground floor retail function. 

"The status quo of keeping the building as it is - is simply unacceptable and if maintained will lead to an extremely disappointing situation for Ireland's second city for which there is a national level aspiration to double in size in order to counterbalance the Dublin-centric approach to development," the documents state.

"To be taken seriously as a city we need scale and it is developments such as this that will help to realise the vision for Cork and its city centre to become a sustainable urban destination and thrive as the economic engine of the region."

In pre-planning discussions with the City Council, planners said the current proposal was a "significant improvement" on the previous proposal. They also said the various building heights, a mix of three-storey, four-storey, six-storey and seven-storey and their set-back nature would work well on the site.

The planning documents also highlight the necessity of placing jobs and employment in areas that are well connected by public transport. "If this has any chance of happening then reducing car dependency is key - the proposed development will contribute to the achievement of a compact city centre in a highly sustainable area of the city, with transportation modes in favour of walking, cycling and use of public transport."

"Employment in the outskirts of the city and in district centres are of course positive but they do no support the key retailers in the city and the strong hospitality food and beverage sector which is a key component to every successful city. 

A computer-generated image of the planned  development. If approved and constructed, the development will provide 9,728 square metres of office space and 123 square metres of retail. Image: Model Works
A computer-generated image of the planned  development. If approved and constructed, the development will provide 9,728 square metres of office space and 123 square metres of retail. Image: Model Works

"Ensuring the city centre has a critical mass of visitors, tourists and employees is absolutely crucial not only in these uncertain times but also in general as a public transport hub the city is accessible from all key settlements and as such it is the most sustainable place to locate employment."

The architect for the Queen's Old Castle development is O'Mahony Pike led by Conor Kinsella, planners are Butler O'Neill led by Clara O'Neill and engineers are Arup. A planning decision on the application is expected by the end of September.

Clarendon owns a number of key properties across Cork. In a partnership with Bam, they recently developed the Dean Hotel near Kent railway station and the adjacent office block on Horgan's Quay.

They also own the Wilton and Merchant's Quay shopping centres with planning permission in place for their redevelopment. 

In June, Clarendon lodged a fresh planning application to reconfigure the internal layout of the historic Savoy building, significantly enlarging the former Quills store, incorporating some of the smaller units that were located within the centre. A decision on that application is expected later this month.

More in this section

Lunchtime
News Wrap

A lunchtime summary of content highlights on the Irish Examiner website. Delivered at 1pm each day.

Sign up
Revoiced
Newsletter

Some of the best bits from irishexaminer.com direct to your inbox every Monday.

Sign up