Eoghan Dalton Reports
Waterford Council’s team for the North Quays project risks being pale, male and stale according to the director of the company behind the development.Rob Cass noted that “there’s a lot of men around the table” among the management team and said more diverse and younger viewpoints should be included in the project to avoid it becoming “pale/male/stale”.
The comments were featured in a Sunday newspaper and were part of correspondence between Mr Cass and the local authority, in which he also criticised the Council on its housing record and its ambitions for the city.
The company has said the project’s planning application will be submitted at the end of November and will include 300 riverside apartments, a 13-storey four-star hotel containing 200 rooms and will consist of a €350 million investment.
Responding to the Falcon director’s comments, Cllr Eddie Mulligan (FF) said he needed to avoid “silly clichés”.
He said Mr Cass has declined to meet representatives such as Cllr Mulligan who have offered to help on the issue: “If Mr Cass was to engage with me personally, rather than silly clichés, I have a very diverse and young team working with me who certainly are not ‘pale, male or stale’.
“The main problem with the North Quays development at the moment is not having a national politician champion it to funding infrastructure delivery, by Government, and getting boots on the ground building momentum to a new expanded Waterford city.”In his correspondence to the Council, which was acquired by the Sunday Business Post through a Freedom of Information request, Mr Cass also raised concerns about future supply of housing for Waterford.
He said that for the North Quays project, there needs to be 2,500 homes built to coincide with the 6,700 jobs created. He added that for projected population growth as part of Project Ireland 2040, where the city’s population is to grow by 90,000 and the environs by another 90,000, there would need to be 39,000 homes built. Mr Cass reportedly told the Council: “The key message being ‘where are the homes to support the city jobs from 2040?’”On this, Cllr Mulligan reiterated that a need to engage with the local authority.
He said: “In Council, we are preparing the City & County Development Plan and should Mr Cass have raised concerns on future housing provision, these could and can be addressed from a strategic point of view as we prepare the City & County Development Plan, but engagement is needed for this.
“During my term as Chair of the Economic & Enterprise Strategic Policy Committee, we visited one of the newer investors in the City who raised private house rental and affordable housing provision as a challenge for its employees.”
However, a different view of Mr Cass’s pointed remarks was presented by Cllr Joe Kelly (Ind) who believes Waterford is being “softened up” for a scrapping of the North Quays project.
“With this correspondence, and this message the developer is trying to get out, I think it may be an indication that the developer is concerned about the project and is trying to soften us up for problems down the road,” he told the Munster Express. Cllr Kelly said he did not blame the developer and instead directed blame towards the Government.
Regarding housing, he said an under supply is “being driven by the inaction of the Government”, and that the Government needs to provide funding for council and affordable housing on publicly owned land.
“People say to pull on the jersey but we don’t have to all bury our heads in the sand either,” Cllr Kelly said.
When contacted by this newspaper, Falcon Real Estate’s representatives Heneghan PR said no comment would be made as Mr Cass’s comments arose from an FOI.
The Sunday Business Post also reported that Falcon Real Estate told the Council that it had been in talks with H&M and Inditex, the Spanish owners of clothing retailers Zara, Pull & Bear and Massimi Dutti.
Heneghan PR said it would not provide any more information on these negotiations “but will likely provide more detail to coincide with the submission of the planning application” at the end of this month.
Waterford City and County Council did not respond in time for publication.
Eoghan Dalton Reports