Beamish Cork site plan gets €150m go-ahead


DEVELOPER OWEN O’Callaghan has dropped plans to build an events centre in Cork after a rival project on the former Beamish site got approval.

An Bord Pleanála granted permission for a €150 million redevelopment of the former Beamish and Crawford brewery, which includes a cinema, mixed retail, bars, restaurants and 46 student apartments as well as a 6,000-seat event centre.

O’Callaghan Properties (OCP) had submitted revised plans for a 5,000-seater event and conference centre at Albert Quay to Cork City Council last June. The proposal was scrapped yesterday in light of the planning board’s decision to award planning to Heineken Ireland and Bam Construction for their “Brewery Quarter” project at South Main Street.

“A city the size of Cork only has room for one such facility. OCP are not going to muddy the waters, we will not proceed with our project and wish Heineken Ireland and Bam Construction the best of luck with theirs,” a spokesman for OCP said.

A decision on the property company’s events centre was due in weeks, but the board has granted permission for the Beamish project with a number of conditions attached.

As part of the plans, a museum containing old brewing equipment will be located within the 17th-century Counting House building with its mock Tudor facade, which will be preserved as a protected structure.

Construction, which incorporates a new pedestrian bridge linking the Beamish site to St Fin Barre’s Cathedral is expected to begin this year, after a number of conditions attached by the planning board are considered.

Declan Farmer, Heineken Ireland’s corporate affairs manager, said he was grateful for Mr O’Callaghan’s good wishes and said the project would reflect the historical importance of brewing in Cork.

He said the brewery archives are some of the most detailed of their kind in the country and form the basis of a new book. It was too early to say what form a heritage centre on the site may take.

The National Conservation and Heritage Group, who appealed the city council’s decision to grant permission for the development, plans to lodge a petition against the plans to the European Parliament. Spokesman Damien Cassidy said the decision, which was not expected until February, was a breach of the democratic process.

“They made this decision on December 23rd but failed to notify us, the appellants. It’s not good enough that we knew nothing of it,” he said.

Up to 300 jobs could be created over a three-year construction phase, but Mr Cassidy said if heritage sites of national importance are bartered in exchange for the economy then “nothing is sacred”.