Planning has been given for a massive expansion of the Penneys flagship store in the heart of Cork city.
The move has been hailed as an important vote of confidence in the city.
Pending an appeal, retail giant Primark and its development partners, O’Flynn Construction, will deliver a nearly 50% expansion of the St Patrick’s Street store in a project that will regenerate an entire block on the main street of the city.
The store will increase in size by 17,000 square feet to 54,000 square feet, with the project encompassing a site stretching from Robert St to Cook St, and from St Patrick’s Street to Oliver Plunkett St.
A number of conditions have been added, including several to protect and conserve the site’s heritage, buildings and visual amenities in the area, including the denial of permission for five signs that were proposed to be placed in front of buildings. on St Patrick’s Street, Cook St and Oliver Plunkett St, and the retention and display of cast iron columns in the former Munster Arcade, a listed structure.
O’Flynn Construction has supported Primark throughout the planning and development process, and assisted with on-site assembly, estimated to cost in excess of €30 million.
The planning grant on Wednesday follows a lengthy consideration of the application filed last August, which included a request for more information amid planners’ concerns about the plan’s potential impact on the area’s built heritage.
In response, Primark said the project would attract more visitors to the city, help reduce the number of vacant premises in the city, and would not have a material impact on the diversity of units in the city.
Cork Chamber Chief Executive Conor Healy welcomed the decision.
“This is an important strategic retail site in the heart of the city,” he said. “This decision will provide additional confidence to commercial development in the downtown area.”
Meanwhile, in the neighboring block, the original limestone façade of the former Victoria Hotel has been revealed as work in its refurbishment as a four-storey retail development proceeds.
Victoria Hotel – When Southgate Associates Conservation Consultants discovered Cork’s beautiful limestone beneath layers of waterproof paint, there was no choice but to undertake a best practice conservation repair, cleanup and shoring project. #conservation #CorkCity #limestone pic.twitter.com/G5wtRTrxL4
— Southgate Associates (@SouthgateAssoc1) May 18, 2022