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Tall buildings plan for Cork will keep 'special character'

Council study hopes to identify areas of the city most suitable for future high-rise developments

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Tall storey: The 17-storey Elysian Tower was Ireland’s tallest building

Tall storey: The 17-storey Elysian Tower was Ireland’s tallest building

Tall storey: The 17-storey Elysian Tower was Ireland’s tallest building

It's already home to one of Ireland's tallest buildings, and now Cork City Council wants to identify areas of the city most suitable for future high-rise developments.

The aim of a new study is to ensure that Cork's "unique and special character is conserved and enhanced by new development", according to the council. Among tall buildings planned for the city are the 34-storey Custom House Quay project by US firm Tower Developments.

Cork's Elysian Tower was until 2018 the tallest building in Ireland, at 17 storeys.

But the completion in 2018 of Capital Dock in Dublin, at 22 storeys, saw the accolade shift to the capital. However, the €150m Custom House Quay project in Cork would eclipse that when it's eventually completed. The new Cork building will house a hotel, which is being supported by the international Marriott group.

Cork City Council said in an invitation to tender that a study it will fund is intended to provide "new thinking" and a "robust evidence base" for the city's new development plan in order to ensure the council has a coherent policy in relation to urban density, building height and tall buildings. Its next development plan will cover the years 2022 to 2028.

"Achieving a density of development appropriate to Cork is essential," noted the council. "A density strategy is necessary in order to optimise the density of development within Cork city, to achieve national planning framework targets for homes and jobs, and to achieve value for money for the public funds committed and invested by the State in infrastructure and services."

It added that tall buildings, by definition, are "visually very prominent" and that it's of "paramount importance to get them right".

"Achieving excellence in urban, architectural, structural engineering and landscape design must therefore be prerequisites to any tall building proposal that will be considered within the development management process," the council noted.

Cork City Council is currently in the process of preparing an urban density and height study for the Tivoli Docks area, which will also be an element of the new development plan.

"Cork City Council is aware of advances in tall building assessment policy and practice in ensuring excellence in the design of tall buildings and is ambitious to ensure that this becomes a reality for Cork," it said.

In February, An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for a 24-storey apartment block on Albert Quay in Cork, despite Cork City Council expressing concerns about the plan. It argued that permission for the scheme was premature pending its tall buildings study. The development is being undertaken by developer John Cleary's Progressive Commercial Construction.

He's been planning a development on the site since at least 2014, initially eyeing an office block. The recently approved scheme is for 201 build-to-rent apartments.

Irish Independent