Speaking to The Munster Express, Waterford City & County Council’s Paul Daly said the list of 78 separate plots, published in last week’s edition, was the culmination of two months’ work on the local authority’s behalf.
“This will allow us to track the ownership of each plot as best we can ascertain,” said Mr Daly, with the ownership of 16 of the listed plots currently unknown by City Hall.
Given the scale of the site in question, a relatively small number of properties on Ferrybank’s Dock Road and along the Abbey Road currently occupied by businesses have been earmarked for CPOs by the Council.
The Council is also seeking to CPO the former Goodyear factory adjacent to Frank Cassin Wharf, as well as some lands currently under the ownership of the Little Sisters of the Poor, Good Counsel National School and Abbey Community College.
Mr Daly stated: “What it means, quite simply, is that we will buy the land off (the owners) and we will use it, and that those businesses shall have to find somewhere else. We’ve already started talking to these businesses and we will be dealing with them as the process goes on. There’s generally two ways of doing this: we deal with the property owner and in some instances the business and the owner are the same person and in most instances the owner has the property leased to someone so there’s two ways of dealing with that – either we can deal with the lessee and we can deal with them on the basis of buying their lease or we can talk to them about relocation if that’s what they want. The other way is to the deal with the property owner and leave the owner then deal with the lessee.”
In relation to the Abbey Road area subject to the CPO, Mr Daly commented: “You have us now assembling all the property on the North Quays for development so that we can present it as one development site. And then, at the same time, we’re CPO-ing all the land around it that’s needed for access to that site because we have to upgrade the access onto the North Quays both from the South Quays and from the Dock Road and Abbey Road, so there’s going to be a lot of road widening going on. We’re doing all of this on the basis that we are going to be the owner of the entire North Quay site so that we can present it as development as one site. We’re acquiring all the land from the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ), all the land we need within the SDZ and any land around it that’s going to be needed for access to it. As you know, it’s cut off by the railway so we need to get across the railway into the site in substantial quantity.”
The two principal landowners listed in the CPO are the Council itself and the Port of Waterford, which, in theory, ought to make this a somewhat smoother process. “But if you look at the list of plots (on the CPO list), these ownerships are broken into a series of smaller plots but in order to present that for development, the easiest thing to do is to roll the whole thing up in a CPO so that, ideally, we’ll end up with one owner for the entire plot. That should make things easier, on the whole.”
So with this in mind, is Mr Daly confident that there shouldn’t be too many problems in seeing this part of the project realised, he replied: “Well, you can never tell. You simply never know what a CPO process can throw up but we’d be hopeful that it will be a relatively smooth process, but we just have to wait and see on that front.”
Would the creation of a single site improve matters from the perspective of Alhokair, the Saudi Arabian mall operator which is set to inject €300 million into Waterford city centre?
Paul Daly replied: “Alhokair – or anybody else – that wants to develop on the North Quays, we’re presenting them with one site and we looked at the North Quays ever before there was an Alhokair. We employed consultants to look at the North Quays to say, right, we’re going to develop this site, so how do we get into it, how do we get out of it and what’s needed to be done. We had the infrastructure ‘piece’ from the consultants and we’ve had that for a while, which has also been a huge help during this process.”
Referring to a map prepared by consultants employed the Council, the need to create “major access points” on either flank of the site (without removing the stone arch bridge adjacent to the Top Oil service station), in addition to widening and realigning Abbey Road.
“Both ourselves the Port are 99.99 per cent landowners there so we assembled the development site and then we’re putting together all these other parcels of land to provide access. We need to CPO a petrol station and office beside it on the basis that we have to provide some sort of reasonable pedestrian access but we also need to develop something that blends in and screens and matches the Dock Road to the development behind because you can’t be walking down the Dock Road, looking at the back end of the development on the far side of the railway tracks. It’s got to be a part of the north city in the same way the city centre is part of the south city. So we looked at it, and realised the importance of blending the site back down into the north city. There are a whole series of access issues we are hoping to address through this process – there’s one big block to be taken out in due course on the Abbey Road, as well as a house too, and we want to take out the old Goodyear factory too. ”
On the south bank of the river, the Council is seeking to CPO the car park lease currently held by Keyverflow Ltd on lands already in their ownership at the Clock Tower area.
“That’s to give us the landing point for the (new) footbridge,” said Paul Daly, “to give us some level of presentation around it, so it’s not going to be a case of landing it in the middle of the existing car park. We want to create a proper and substantial entrance onto the bridge, so if you’re looking back from Barronstrand Street, that there’ll be a clear and identifiable area where the north city and south city will effectively link up.”
Mr Daly also confirmed that speculation about the prospect of the iconic Clock Tower being moved, even a matter of feet in either direction, was no longer under consideration.
“We did look at but we felt it was best to left where it is, there’s no point in moving it just for sport,” he stated.
The consultants have also identified the long-term provision of a further roadbridge linking the Mall to (the by then widened) Abbey Road, something which had been initially considered during Martin Cullen’s time at the Office of Public Works.
The consultants have advised the Council that an access road should be provided on the Ferrybank side of the River Suir in the event of another opening span bridge being constructed in due course.
A copy of the CPO can be viewed between 9.30am and 4pm, Monday to Friday, at the Council’s Customer Services Department at Bailey’s New Street or at the Customer Services Department in the Civic Offices in Dungarvan. Any objections to the CPO must be submitted to An Bord Pleanála by no later than 5pm on Friday, August 25th.