Appeals board rejects €70m build-to-rent apartment scheme for Cork

Distillery Quarter proposal lodged by Eichsfeld’s Frank Sheahan snr and Joseph Carey

An Bord Pleanála has rejected fast-track plans for a €70 million 191-unit build-to-rent apartment scheme for Cork city.

Last year, Eichsfeld Ltd lodged plans for the scheme for Distillery Quarter, Blackpool, on the N20 leading out of Cork city.

The two shareholders of Eichsfeld Ltd are listed as Joseph Carey and Frank Sheahan snr, father of Frankie Sheahan, the chief executive of Pendulum Summit and ex-Ireland rugby international.

Frank Sheahan snr and Mr Carey each have a 50 per cent shareholding in the company.

The scheme across three parcels of land comprises five apartment blocks with two reaching to nine storeys in height and is made up of 99 one-bed apartments, 69 two-bed apartments and 23 three-bed apartments.

The appeals board refused planning permission to Eichsfeld Ltd after concluding that the scheme results in a poor design concept that is substandard in its form and layout due to the lack of sufficient high-quality usable open spaces.

The appeals board ruled that as a result of the inadequate level of public open space proposed, the proposal “represents overdevelopment of the site and would lead to conditions injurious to the residential amenities of future occupants”.

The appeals board also refused planning permission after concluding that the applicant had not demonstrated that the redevelopment of the Hewitt’s Mills building would not have an adverse impact on the historic character and architectural quality of the building.

The board also concluded that the scheme would detract from the historic character of this significant industrial building, Hewitt’s Mills.

Planning report

A planning report by Fehily Timoney on behalf of the applicants stated that the proposed development provides a sensitive reuse of a protected structure and relic of industrial archaeology and heritage.

In compliance with the applicant's social housing obligations, Eichsfeld had proposed to provide 19 units to Cork City Council and had put an indicative price tag of €6.94 million on the units.

The apartment blocks included two four-storey buildings already in place and the council recommended to the appeals board that planning permission be granted for the proposed developments at Parcel A and Parcel C but to refuse planning permission for the proposed development at Parcel B.

A number of objections were also received from locals against the scheme, with objectors claiming that it had excessive height and arguing that the build-to-rent model is unsustainable development.