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Published in Architecture on 24/03/2021

Planning Approved for Ireland’s Tallest Building

CNI reports

An Bord Pleanála has granted planning permission for what will be the country’s tallest building.

The green light for the €140m development at Custom House Quay in Cork City centre was given today subject to 23 conditions.

The board’s decision follows an appeal by a number of parties, including the Irish Georgian Society, to the go-ahead given to the project by Cork City Council last October.

The planned development by New York-based Tower Holdings on the former Port of Cork site, with its iconic Port of Cork sign, includes a 34-storey hotel tower, 25 serviced suites, and a range of commercial uses including retail, office, food and beverage, distillery, tourism and leisure.

In its 21-page decision, the board said it took on board a number of factors, including the development of the Cork region as a counter balance to Dublin as outlined in the National Planning Framework and the Cork Metropolitan Area Strategic Plan.

The board also noted the character and pattern of existing and permitted development in an area that was earmarked last week by the Government for a €350m redevelopment programme.

The board agreed with its inspector that any significant impact on the environment would be mitigated by the positive impacts of the redevelopment of a “brown field and under-utilised city centre site”.

The redevelopment of the site will include the demolition of part of the Revenue Building, which is a protected structure.

But the board concluded that “the environmental effects would not justify a refusal of planning permission having regard to the overall benefits of the proposed development”.

The 23 conditions include the appointment of a conservation expert to manage, monitor and implement works on the site, the provision of 20 car parking spaces, a detailed log of the existing buildings’ historic features be lodged with the Irish Architectural Archives, and an archaeological appraisal of the site is carried out.

The developer will also be required to submit detailed plans on traffic and waste management during construction, as well as submitting further details on the planned maritime-themed visitor centre, and the operation of the pontoon on Custom House Quay.

Financial contributions will also have to be paid to Cork City Council in respect of public infrastructure and facilities benefiting development in the area, and towards road improvement works in the vicinity before the development can go ahead.

Welcoming the board’s decision, the CEO of Tower Holdings Group, Kevin O’Sullivan, said he believed the project “will add great value to the city and boost the docklands regeneration”.

A start date for the project has yet to be set.

Tower Holdings Director of Operations in Ireland, Conor Lee, said they have yet to fully examine the board’s decision and the potential impact of the conditions on a start date.

“We have yet to fully examine all the planning conditions and certain points of detail to establish their effect on the scheme before commencing future engagement with potential occupiers, which in turn will dictate a state date for the project,” he said.