€50m revamp of Cork’s historic medieval core revealed

The Lord Mayor of Cork has described plans for a near €50m renewal of Cork’s historic medieval core as a “game-changer” for the city.

Cllr Colm Kelleher was speaking after city councillors were briefed on Wednesday on the details of the first phase of the ‘Grand Parade Quarter’ project, which will see a complete renewal of the area around the southern gateway to the medieval city, connecting the Grand Parade and its historic side lanes and streets, through a revamped Bishop Lucey Park, with the south channel of the River Lee. 

It’s been described as one of the most transformative and ambitious public realm renewal programmes ever undertaken in the city, and includes:

  • extensive public realm upgrades to the Grand Parade;
  • the development of a new city library;
  • upgrades to connecting side streets, including Tuckey Street, to link in to a completely revamped South Main St area, where a new civic space will be developed outside the historic and recently restored Beamish and Crawford Counting House;
  • and revamps of lanes and streets on the southern side of South Gate Bridge, including Keyser’s Hill, Proby’s Quay, French’s Quay, Crosses Green, Clarke’s Bridge and Wandesford Quay, Hanover Place and Hanover Street.
Bishop Lucey Park is to be completely renewed based on an already selected architectural design that will open up the park to the wider city centre.

Extensive streetscape enhancements including soft landscaping, natural stone paving, street furniture, trees and ancillary works, including the provision of modern low energy public and feature lighting, and the undergrounding of overhead cables is proposed.

The layout of the affected streets will be reconfigured to include widened footpaths, cycle lanes and in some places, the “removal or rationalisation” of service bays and on-street parking.

An aerial view of Bishop Lucey Park and South Main Street from the newly-revealed plans.

An aerial view of Bishop Lucey Park and South Main Street from the newly-revealed plans.

Bishop Lucey Park is to be completely renewed based on the design of Belfast firm Hall McKnight Architects’, which won an RIAI competition for the site in summer 2019.

The railings around the park will be removed to open the amenity up more to the city, and there are plans to expose more of the medieval walls embedded within the park.

The architects have designed “a plinth”, orientated to align with the park’s arches on Grand Parade which will be retained, and four distinct structures which “emerge” from the plinth, including a little tower, which will be able to hold banners or lighting rigs for public events, a low linear pavilion structure, with wild flowers growing on its roof, a shelter space to the north west corner of the park, and a bridge next to it spanning across the in the park to the Grand Parade.

The final element is the development of a new public library on the Grand Parade, planning for which is already underway.

Proby's Quay as envisaged in the plans to renew the Grand Parade Quarter.

Proby’s Quay as envisaged in the plans to renew the Grand Parade Quarter.

The work is being funded through the government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) and from Cork City Council’s own resources.

Mr Kelleher said: “It will attract more people to this historic part of the city centre and be a great fillip to business.” 

The entrance to Bishop Lucey Park on South Main Street under the new project.

The entrance to Bishop Lucey Park on South Main Street under the new project.

Council chief executive, Ann Doherty, said the project is very much in keeping with the council’s objective to “re-imagine the city” which it has championed during the pandemic and which has led to 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.

“As we come out of this challenging period, the city is poised to make a strong, accelerated recovery and this flagship Grand Parade Project will contribute greatly to that,” she said.

“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.”

Tuckey Street as viewed from Grand Parade in the regeneration plan.

Tuckey Street as viewed from Grand Parade in the regeneration plan.

The proposals for Bishop Lucey Park and the Beamish and Crawford/South Main Street and surrounding area are the subject of two separate Part 8 planning applications which will be published on Friday for public consultation.

Tendering and contractor appointments are due to take place in the first quarter of next year with construction set to begin later in 2022.

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