Cork City Council unveils plan for €46m transformation of city’s medieval quarter

€46m transformation of Cork's medieval quarter.

€46m transformation of Cork's medieval quarter.

€46m transformation of Cork's medieval quarter.

Ralph Riegel

CORK has unveiled plans for a €46m transformation of its medieval quarter in a game-changer development for one of Europe's fastest growing cities.

Cork - which helped spearhead Ireland's street dining initiative in response to the Covid-19 pandemic - will now add a refurbished medieval quarter to its existing Huguenot and Victorian quarters.

The city hopes to expand by almost 50pc over the next 15 years to better serve as a counterweight to Dublin and the east coast.

The ambitious €46m plan, financed under the Government's Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), represents one of the most extensive urban transformations ever attempted in Ireland.

Cork officials admitted the challenges posed by the global pandemic had accelerated plans to make urban living better suited to modern needs.

By 2040, Cork aims to become Ireland's fastest-growing city - and one of Europe's premier city break destinations.

The plan will see a complete renewal of the area around the southern gateway to the old medieval city, connecting the Grand Parade and a series of historic lanes, streets and Bishop Lucey Park with the south channel of the River Lee and the city centre business core.

The development will transform the historic area linking the city centre to the Cork Events Centre and St Fin Barre's Cathedral.

Bishop Lucey Park will be completely renewed based on an award-winning architectural design to open up the park to the wider city centre.

It will also make a major feature of the city's medieval wall visible within the park.

South Main Street will see the creation of a large-scale public space opening up the historic Counting House on the Beamish and Crawford site and creating new walking and cycling opportunities around the area.

Streets will have tree-lined footpaths and roadways will have low-level planting beds in a deliberate 'greening' of the city.

A central element of the project will see the development of a state-of-the-art new public library in the Grand Parade area.

Lord Mayor of Cork, Councillor Colm Kelleher, said the blueprint was “striking and game changing for Cork."

“The Grand Parade Project will create a wonderfully attractive environment providing accessible and inviting spaces and streets for residents and visitors alike. It will attract more people to this historic part of the city centre and be a great fillip to business.”

Cork City Council chief executive, Ann Doherty, said it was another strategic step in the re-imagining of Cork city.

"The greater receptiveness to change arising from today’s challenges has allowed us to fast forward many of our proposals and plans," she said.

"The gains are very obvious - the permanent pedestrianisation of 17 city centre streets, the facilitation of outdoor dining and a 'greening' of the city centre on a scale never previously seen.

"In many respects, Cork city is an exemplar for positive change at this time and this project builds on that momentum. Looking forward, the 6,000 seat Event Centre to be developed on the Beamish and Crawford site will be greatly enhanced by the significant renewal all around the area."

The proposals for Bishop Lucey Park and the Beamish and Crawford/South Main Street and surrounding area are the subject of two separate planning applications to be published on Thursday.

They will then go to public consultation.

Tendering and contractor appointments are scheduled to occur in the first quarter of next year with construction set to begin in late 2022.

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