Re: Re: Developments in Cork

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Eoin English’s report in today’s Irish Examiner regarding the CCC attempt to CPO the Showgrounds site:

A MASSIVE public park with Cork’s Pairc Ui Chaoimh at its heart will help kickstart the multi-billion regeneration of the city’s docklands, an oral hearing heard yesterday.
Senior city council officials said it was vital that an ambitious compulsory purchase order (CPO) is confirmed for five separate sites; totaling 10 hectares — the largest of which is the key Showgrounds site — to drive the flagship Marina park project forward.
Bord Pleanila inspector, Michael Ward, heard detailed evidence from council officials yesterday on why they have issued what is the first CPO in the €2 billon docklands redevelopment strategy.
The CPO is being vigorously contested by the Munster Agricultural Society (MAS), which leases the: 8.7 hectare Showgrounds site from the council, and CAB Motors.
Pat Ledwidge, the director of the city’s docklands directorate, said council attempts to acquire the lands by agreement had failed.
The current use of the Showgrounds land does not adhere to its public open space zoning and the council is best placed to ensure that the lands are developed in accordance with the 2004 city development plan, he said.
“The Munster Agricultural Society, nor other occupiers, have the resources or the inclination, to develop this land,” he said.
Developing the park would act as a catalyst to encourage private developers to invest in the docklands regeneration, he said.
Several neighbouring Docklands land-banks closer to the city have already been acquired by developers like McCarthy Developments and Howard Holdings.
Other landowners are poised to embark on development projects that will transform the area into a new urban quarter almost size of the city centre.
Senior council planner, Ann Bogan, said developing the park near Pairc Ui Chaoimh was vital to provide the estimated 15,000 people who will live in the regenerated docklands, and the 23.000 people who will work there, a quality public open space.
Junior counsel Pearse Sreenan, representing the council, said the Munster Agricultural Society had fragrantly breached the terms of its lease of the Showgrounds site.
He produced aerial photographs which showed a portion of its show jumping enclosure had been used as a temporary car storage site by National Vehicle Distribution, and another small section had been used by an unauthorized spray painting Operation, which has now ceased.
But David Holland SC, representing the Munster Agricultural Society, accused the council of frustrating his efforts to secure documents through the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) relating to discussions it may have had with stakeholders in the docklands region.
“Information is coming to us on the Cork grapevine,” he said.
He produced documents secured under FOI which show that the secretary of Cork County Board, Frank Murphy, was in correspondence in 2004 with city manager Joe Gavin about GAA plans to build a hotel and a car park on the Showgrounds site as part of a possible Pairc Ui Chaoimh revamp.
This is despite assertions by the council yesterday that no discussions about the stadium revamp had taken place and that zoning of the Showgrounds site would have a presumption against development.
Mr Holland said it was impossible for him to properly question council witnesses without access to all relevant documents.
But hearing chairman, Mr Ward, refused his request to direct the council to produce such documents.
There were several sharp exchanges between both men as Mr Holland accused Mr Ward of being too rigid.
But Mr Ward insisted that he wanted the hearing to proceed and wanted to ensure the council officials presented all their evidence yesterday.
He said Mr Holland would have ample time to question witnesses today.
Meanwhile, solicitor Kevin Nagle, representing Timothy (Ted) O’Keeffe, will also attempt today to contest moves by the council to acquire three acres of land behind the Lee Rowing Club where cattle graze as part of the CPO).
Mr Nagle claimed his client had not been properly informed about the issuing of the CPO and had therefore not been able to object before the deadline.
He tried a number of times yesterday to raise his concerns but Mr Ward said he would hear his arguments today.
Mr Nagle claimed yesterday that Howard Holdings had agreed verbally with him to buy the site for €10 million in April.
But the company pulled out of the deal shortly before the CPO issued, he said.
The hearing heard that Mr Nagle has rejected an offer from the council of €90,000 per acre to buy out any interest his client may have in the site.
The hearing continues today.

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