Tuesday 25 July 2017

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Masterplan after St Kevin's fire

Wednesday, 12th July, 2017 5:44pm

What’s next for St Kevin’s? That was the question on city councillor’s lips after it was destroyed by a blaze last week.

At Monday’s meeting of Cork City Council, the first after the fire at the former asylum, there was a cross party agreement that a major plan is needed for the area.

The Lord Mayor Cllr Tony Fitzgerald raised the topic and he called for a master plan for to be developed on the Our Lady’s Hospital site.

“I want pay tribute to the fire service and the work they did at St Kevin’s for long hours and into the long hours of night," he said.

He also said that he has visited the area and was in communication with the HSE, the relevant city council department and the fire department in relation to its current status. “Now we have a site which is a planning issue. Looking into the future, it’s an issue of environmental health and an issue that needs to be looked is how we can protect it.

"I am calling for a masterplan for the Shanakiel area because we have a number of buildings that are protected there and plans need to be looked at in terms of these buildings.

“It’s not easy to say that it should be x, y and z because it’s such a vast site. It stretches from the river right up to the north-west area. One development is not going to solve the problem,” Cllr Fitzgerald said. The Lord Mayor added a report from the building control officer has to be completed first which will show what the status of the building. He hopes to have that report shortly.

Sinn Féin Cllr Thomas Gould said he was “absolutely gutted" to see the building burnt like it was.

“It makes it look like we are incapable of doing anything and it wasn’t us.”

He said there could be different uses on the site, saying that days of big social housing developments are gone.

Cllr Gould said he would like to a see a combination of private, social, student ad office development on it: “What a beautiful site it could be,” he added. His party colleague Mick Nugent said that if the building is salvageable, then now is the time to strike!

Cllr Tim Brosnan (Fianna Fáil) said that if it can be saved then a minister will have to come through with the money.

Speaking about what happed in the former mental asylum, Fine Gael Cllr John Buttimer said: “We have a unique opportunity from this fire to put some things to right and put a meaningful infrastructure in place.”

Independent Cllr Thomas Moloney said that people should know that the HSE owns this building, not Cork City Council.

He added: “I have to agree that Cork City Council did the right in not buying this building because the infrastructure isn’t fit for purpose."

Deputy Chief Executive Pat Ledwidge said, citing the size of that building and costs associated with it: “We could have found ourselves in a difficult situation if we owned it.”

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