Thursday 22 March 2018

Crematorium plan for hotel site

Site would be 'ideally suited' to provide a crematorium service for North Cork/Kerry

Bill Browne

The site of the former Duhallow Park Hotel could be in line to become the location for Cork's second crematorium.

The owners of the site, Whitegate-based Classic Lodges (Ireland) Ltd, have made a submission to Cork County Council seeking the proposal to be incorporated into the draft Kanturk/Mallow Municipal District Local Area Plan (LAP).  It is understood the proposal has been given the backing of local county councillors when it came up for discussion at a recent district meeting. 

In their submission the company said the draft plan should be amended to give "general support" to the provision of crematoria on brownfield sites in rural areas and to "identify the former Duhallow Park Hotel as a suitable location."

The submission went on to list a number of reasons as to why the site would be suitable for a crematorium, among them being the growing demand for such a facility, which it said had only been addressed in urban areas.  It said a crematorium was a "particularly suitable" use for a brownfield site in a rural area and that the proposed site at Dromcummer Beg would be "ideally suited" to provide cremation services over a wide area of North Cork and Kerry. 

The company pointed out there was extant planning permission for a substantial commercial development on the site and that its proposed use as a crematorium would "generate a lower level of traffic than the established and permitted uses."

"A crematorium at this location would improve the range of social and community facilities in North Cork while providing new employment and an economic benefit for the area," the submission concluded. 

Officials from Cork County Council's planning department are currently in the process of meeting Municipal District Committees across the county to discuss the finalisation of their draft LAPs in April. 

Once these have been compiled they will be submitted to the council's CEO, Tim Lucey who will compile a report commenting on each of the submissions included. 

These will then be sent back to each committee for discussion ahead of the  adoption of the final Local Area Plan's next July. 

Commenting on the crematorium submission Kanturk/Mallow independent county councillor John Paul O'Shea pointed out the proposal was at a very early stage. "There is no doubt but that this proposal will provoke a lot of discussion and I personally believe that the idea has considerable merit," said Cllr O'Shea.

He added that the only existing crematorium in Cork is in Ringaskiddy and this location means access is relatively difficult for people from North Cork and further afield. "There is an increasing demand for crematoria across the whole of Ireland.  In my opinion Dromcummer Beg would be an ideal location for such a facility given the size of the site and its central location," said Cllr O'Shea.

"While this is at a very early stage and there is no guarantee that it will go ahead, in my opinion this is a very good idea and one that has my full backing," he added.

Much loved hotel closed down in 2004

The Duhallow Park Hotel was purchased from Kanturk native Frank Healy in late 2004 by billionaire Englishman Trevor Hemmings for an undisclosed sum.

It closed its doors six-weeks later with the loss of 20 staff.

In 2009 Classic Lodges (Ireland) successfully applied for planning permission to demolish the premises and replace it with a 36 bedroom hotel and 13 dwellings. However, this coincided with the collapse of the Irish economy and the plan was shelved.

In 2013 the company sought and was granted an extension of duration for planning permission..

However, a spokesman for Trevor Hemmings subsequently told The Corkman that there were "no plans at present" to act on the plan to revamp the hotel. He said the dilapidated hotel was categorised as being "a danger" and it would be more economically feasible to demolish it.

In August 2014 planning was granted for the completion of the hotel's demolition and the construction of four, two-storey houses on the 7.2 acre site was subsequently shot down on appeal by An Bord Pleanala.