North Quay approved for ‘SDZ’ status
Dermot Keyes reports
The designation of Waterford’s North Quays as a Special Development Zone (SDZ) has been described as a ‘game changer’ and ‘one of the biggest days in the history of our great city’.
The eight-hectare (20-acre) site is the first such site in the south east to receive this designation, a process which led to the transformation of the Dublin Docklands and the St Brendan’s Mental Hospital in Grangegorman, North Dublin, now home to DIT’s impressive new campus.
Speaking at the launch held at the Medieval Museum on Friday last, City & County Mayor John Cummins said the announcement “ended a significant period of uncertainty which has been associated with the North Quay site and gives us a mechanism to realise the full potential of both the site and, indeed, Waterford city.”
The City & County Council will act as the site’s Development Agency, with Mayor Cummins hopeful that a draft planning scheme “will be addressed by the end of this year”, following consultation with stakeholders, including the Port of Waterford.
“The SDZ will be a game changing intervention for our city and its development will provide a location for employment, community and social cohesion consistent with the Government’s objective towards regional balance.”
Minister of State Paudie Coffey, who was praised by the Mayor for his “positive intervention” in this profess by the Mayor, stated: “There is now a unique opportunity for accelerated and detailed master planning which will unlock the fabulous potential of the North Quays to bring significant economic development right into the heart of Waterford City…
“The designation of the North Quays reflects its strategic location as a driver for supporting strategic national and regional economic and land use policy.”
Minister Coffey referred to the City & County Council’s previously established design framework for the site in recent years.
“Historically these lands were used for port related activities and rendered redundant by the transfer of the port activities to a deep water berth at Belview further downstream. The buildings on the lands are currently unoccupied and disused.”
He added: “The North Quays is an area that is central, available for regeneration and proximate to public services in the effective centre of Waterford city…
“The SDZ designation provides a platform to harness the economic and social significance of the North Quays and to deliver on the regeneration potential of this strategic brownfield site, to create long term sustainable employment, improved accessibility and deliver a vibrant urban quarter through the fast track planning framework of a Strategic Development Zone.”
In the coming months, the Council will undertake wide ranging consultations to inform and shape the development of the SDZ, the Minister noted
“This site has been derelict for a number of years now and I’m delighted that we now have a master plan for the area. Waterford is a thriving vibrant city and this SDZ will make it more attractive to visitors and investors alike and remove an eyesore.
“It is also important to note that the investment in this site will be significant in the region of tens of millions from both Government and private developers. In addition during the construction phase hundreds of jobs will be created.”
The contract for the long-awaited demolition works on the site was due to be signed by Mayor Cummins today (Tuesday).
Meanwhile, the confirmation that the Apple Market/Michael Street project has received €4 million in European Regional Development Funding formed part of a good news drum which Fine Gael was busily beating in Waterford last week.