Plan to redevelop Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Wed, Apr 18, 2012, 01:00

A PLANNING application for a €45 million redevelopment of Cork’s Páirc Uí Chaoimh will be lodged this summer – but local residents have vowed to pursue their objections.

City councillors voted in favour of a variation to the city development plan to rezone 6.8 acres of public amenity space to sports grounds.

Sinn Féin councillor Chris O’Leary said there was a conflict of interest among councillors with GAA associations voting on the rezoning. “Almost all of the 21 councillors that voted to implement the variation had a vested interest in the GAA,” he said.

The GAA plans to expand the stadium, increasing capacity from 43,000 to 50,000, and to develop an all-weather pitch with a 1,000-seat stand and “centre of excellence” adjacent which would dissect an area of Cork docklands designated for green space.

The extension will include new player and referee changing rooms, corporate boxes, medical rooms, a gym and a restaurant.

“We are not against the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh, we endorse it,” the chairman of Ballintemple Residents’ Association Patrick Mulley said, “but the land was purchased under CPO for Marina Park. Once these plots are taken for the all-weather pitch, what’s left is cut in two pieces and is very small.”

The GAA’s proposal, described by Fianna Fáil councillor Seán Martin as a “once-in-a-lifetime chance to provide top-class facilities” to Cork’s GAA players, could also see the venue used for concerts, with capacity for ticket sales of up to 60,000, Cork’s city manager Tim Lucey said.

Councillors voted on Monday night to rezone the land as a variation to the city development plan and the South Docklands Local Area Plan. Some 120 residents objected to the variation, which was carried by local councillors who voted 21-nine in favour.

Labour councillor Catherine Clancy said councillors were not clear on the details of the GAA’s plans and a material contravention would have been more suitable.

“It would have been better if rezoning was deferred until we know exactly what is going on the site and that it came again before council under material contravention so that all 31 councillors would be clear on what they were voting for,” she said.

Cork City Council acquired the land by CPO from the Munster Agricultural Society.

Zoned for public open space, it was acquired to form part of the proposed Marina Park – a massive sub-regional park included in the city’s 2008 South Docklands Local Area Plan.

Mr Lucey said the deal was equivalent to €249,267 an acre – substantially above the €90,000 market value of land in that area.

The Munster Agricultural Society received €11.5 million in compensation to vacate its Cork showground base.

The GAA paid €1.7million for the land. The Cork County Board has said it hopes to lodge a planning application in June. If the application proves successful, construction could begin by end of year, creating up to 300 jobs.