Permission granted for Cork docklands development

O’Callaghan Properties granted permission for scheme costing at least €350 million with potential to create 5,000 jobs

South Docks site in Cork

Cork City Council’s decision to grant conditional planning permission for an office and residential project costing at least €350 million with the potential to create 5,000 new jobs is a major boost for the revitalisation of the city’s docklands, according to the developer behind the project.

Brian O’Callaghan, managing director of O’Callaghan Properties, welcomed the council’s decision to grant planning permission with conditions for the development, which also includes 164 apartments on the near 1.5 hectares site just off Kennedy Quay in the city’s south docks.

“We very much welcome the decision of Cork City Council to grant planning permission for what will be a transformative revitalisation of Cork city’s south docks,” said Mr O’Callaghan who previously said the project had the potential to create 5,000 jobs on completion.

“The council’s decision is a really positive confirmation of our project’s potential to create a major driver of economic activity and employment in Cork city centre and a cultural and tourist landmark for years to come,” he added.

O’Callaghan Properties originally revealed details of the project in November 2021, when the total cost of the investment was put at €350 million, and although no current figures are available from the company, it is expected to now be higher due to construction inflation in the last six months.

The project involves the construction of four new buildings, ranging in height from nine to 12 storeys, and will provide a total of more than 92,000sq m of development space which will include office, residential, retail and a 130-bed private hospital run by French group Orpea.

According to an O’Callaghan Properties spokesman, the development will include almost 42,000sq m of office space and almost 15,000sq m of residential space, while the hospital will occupy almost 14,000sq m in a triangular-shaped, specially-designed building.

The site is bounded by Kennedy Quay to the north, Marina Walk to the south, Mill Road to the east and Victoria Road to the west, and the development will involve the demolition of the two 33.3m-high R & H Hall grain silos which dominate the skyline in the docklands

The development will involve the restoration and repurposing of the nearby derelict Odlums mills on Kennedy Quay to create two seven- and nine-storey buildings incorporating some 84 one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments as well as a cinema, food hall and office space.

Mr O’Callaghan previously revealed that the Odlums building, which operated from 1933 until 2009, was not a simple structure but once it is stripped back and isolated, it offers the opportunity for reuse and extension with little or no impact on the quality of the original structure.

He said that the Odlums building was designed along traditional 19th-century lines, with floors installed at regular levels with windows for ventilation and drying, and it was proposed to retain all of the historic fabric at the front, rear and side facades of the original building.

However, O’Callaghan Properties was obliged to apply for planning permission to demolish the 90-years-old R&H Hall silos after they were found to be suffering from structural issues, which made a viable repurposing of them impossible to achieve.

Some 80 apartments, comprising 30 one-bed units, 40 two-bed units and 10 three-bed units, will be provided in one of the new tower blocks, while the remaining 84, comprising 35 one-bed units, 35 two-bed units and 14 three-bed units will be in the refurbished and extended Odlums building.

Among the conditions which the council has attached to the planning is one that there should be no more than 177 parking spaces on site, with 125 of these reserved for office workers and another 40 for residents, while the development must all include at least 625 bicycle parking spaces.

According to an O’Callaghan Properties spokesman, the work will be carried out in two phases and once planning is granted work on phase one, comprising residential and the hospital, is expected to take two years to complete, with the rest of the work being done on an incremental basis thereafter.

Meanwhile, Mr O’Callaghan revealed that his company is about to submit a further planning application for the development of 1,300 apartments on the adjoining Gouldings site in the south docks, under the large-scale residential development process.

Barry Roche

Barry Roche

Barry Roche is Southern Correspondent of The Irish Times