Grant of €30m for developing Páirc Uí Chaoimh welcomed
Redevelopment would be major boost to Cork and would create 400 construction jobs
Under the redevelopment plan, Páirc Uí Chaoimh will see its capacity increase from 43,500 to 45,000 people, with the existing covered South Stand (with a current capacity of 9,000) being replaced by a three-tier structure with a total capacity of 13,000. Photograph: Lorraine O’Sullivan/Inpho
Cork GAA has expressed hope that a €70 million plan to redevelop Páirc Uí Chaoimh into a 45,000-capacity stadium will clear any planning appeals after the Government announced a €30 million grant to assist the refurbishment.
Cork County Board chairman Bob Ryan welcomed the Cabinet decision to provide €30 million to the Cork GAA and said the association was hopeful the project would get the green light from An Bord Pleanála in the event of any appeals being lodged.
“This grant from the Government is just the impetus we need to get this important project up and running - and hopefully it will clear any planning appeal to An Bord Pleanála because it’s a hugely important project, not just for the GAA but for Cork,” said Mr Ryan.
“We would see the redevelopment of Páirc Uí Chaoimh as essential to ensure it realises its potential as a major event centre, not just for matches but also for concerts, which would be a huge boost to the Cork economy,” he said.
Under the plan, Páirc Uí Chaoimh will see its capacity increase from 43,500 to 45,000 people, with the existing covered South Stand (with a current capacity of 9,000) being replaced by a three-tier structure with a total capacity of 13,000.
The existing uncovered North Stand (with a capacity of 9,000) will also be redeveloped with capacity reducing to 8,000 to allow it be roofed. The terraces will also be upgraded, while retaining their current capacities of 12,500, at both the city and Blackrock ends.
In addition to the main pitch, which is to remain the same size with a five-metre surround, the project also envisages the development of a full-size all-weather pitch in the former Munster Agricultural Showgrounds, with a viewing area on to it from the rear of the South Stand.
“We hope to complete the redevelopment within two years once we clear planning and it’s going to be a huge boost to the construction sector – we estimate it’s going to be worth €22 million in terms of labour, materials, etc and will create some 400 construction jobs,” Mr Ryan said.
However a local group, Save the Marina, is concerned the project will impact on the Marina Development Plan, including plans for a public park. Former Green Party TD Dan Boyle has expressed concerns over the scale of the project.
Mr Boyle said there were good grounds for appealing the decision by Cork City Council to grant the project planning permission in relation to how the council had used a compulsory purchase order to acquire seven acres of land which it then sold to the GAA.
The way in which Cork City Council used the CPO process to buy the land from the Munster Agricultural Society for €11.5 million, and then sell it on to the GAA - a non-public body - for €1.5 million, should be examined by An Bord Pleanála, he said.
Mr Boyle said he had no issue with the redevelopment of the stadium itself, but the building of an all-weather pitch on the former showgrounds doubled the footprint of the project and seriously reduced the amount of land available for public amenity in the area, he said.
“My other major objection is the nakedly political way that the Cabinet announced this decision to provide €30 million for the project when the planning process is still ongoing - and that’s a clear breach of process,” he said.