Cork's Freemason's Hall has lodged plans with the City Council seeking permission for a four-storey extension of their historic building into Bishop Lucey Park.
The Provincial Grand Lodge of Munster said it is seeking approval for the development to allow them to install a new staircase and lift to improve fire safety and universal access in the building.
At present, the location of the proposed extension within the park is an area dedicated to the victims of the Chernobyl Disaster which includes approximately 25 trees and a plaque.
The Freemasons Hall fronts onto Tuckey Street and occupies a building first constructed in the 18th century, with a number of later additions and alterations in the 19th and 20th centuries. In recent years it has become a popular venue for cultural events for both the city and its own membership, with up to 2,500 visitors during events such as Heritage Open Days and Culture Nights.
In their application, the organisation said the building presently lacks universal access and requires improvements relating to fire egress. "A secondary access through the adjoining Bishop Lucey Park would also enable the building to better meet the needs of large numbers of visitors during cultural events," the application states.
David J Butler the Freemasons' Provincial Grand Librarian and Archivist said they have liaised with the Chernobyl Project in regard to their commemorative Birch grove which they said would be substantially reinstated.
In pre-planning discussions, planners in City Hall said this would be the first application of its kind which will encroach on the Park and said they would need to justify how it could be a positive development for the park.
If the application receives the approval of planners, the proposal will be brought before City Councillors for their approval as it will require a material contravention of the Cork City Development Plan.