In response to a detailed submission made by The Munster Express last week, the Council said that the artist’s impressions publicised up to now “simply highlighted previous visions for the site”.
Between January 29th and March 31st, the Council received a total of 16 public submissions during the project’s pre-draft consultation phase. These, a Council spokesperson confirmed, will form part of the Chief Executive’s report and will be made publicly available in due course.
“The preparation of a planning scheme and adoption of same is a statutory process.The draft scheme therefore will have to be robust enough and strategic in its aims as to satisfy scrutiny of An Bord Pleanála. It is imperative that the scheme reflects the SDZ designation as to its importance as an economic driver of national/regional significance.”
Reflecting on an issue raised in last week’s ‘KeyesSide’ column in relation to the level of office space which is set to form part of the new development, the Spokesperson stated: “The portion of office space to be included in the Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) has yet to be decided; however Waterford City & County Council is aware of the issues in relation to office accommodation in Waterford (at Railway Square and Maritana Gate, as highlighted here last week).
“It is envisaged that the SDZ will allow for the creation of a new urban quarter that will attract large scale investment, creating an ‘office culture’ and generate demand for further office development in the city.”
The SDZ status was politically spearheaded by former Minister of State Paudie Coffey, while the significance of the site’s redevelopment had been queried prior to the general election by his Fine Gael colleague, Deputy John Deasy.
However, the departure of Mr Coffey from the Dáil and a sceptical Deputy Deasy’s return to the Lower House will have no bearing on the delivery of this project.
The Council spokesperson added: “While the Government designated the SDZ, the preparation of the North Quays planning scheme will be a reserved function of the members of WCCC and not a function of central government. The planning scheme can be appealed to An Bord Pleanála.”
Another suggestion floated in this newspaper last week was the potential presence of Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) as one of the revamped site’s potential tenants.
With that in mind, the spokesperson replied: “The SDZ designation allows, amongst others, for educational uses and such uses will be examined in the context of the planning scheme.” The Council also confirmed that the North Quay will, in all likelihood, “accommodate some features of an artistic/cultural nature” upon its long-term provision.
The flood protecting of the 20-acre site is also a source of interest when it comes to the North Quay, given that the site has, during major storms over the past decade, been submerged by floodwaters. When asked would Kilkenny County Council, responsible for upriver and downriver sections of the Suir either side of the North Quay, have any role to play, the spokesperson stated: “Consultants are being appointed to consider the engineering and environmental issues which will include ‘Flood Risk Assessment’ being carried out to inform the planning scheme. The recommendations of same will be considered by Waterford City & County Council and appropriate action taken to ensure adequate flood defences.”
A steering group consisting of Council Chief Executive Michael Walsh and Waterford Port CEO Frank Ronan, along with other senior management staff members, has been established to oversee the project.
The Council spokesperson added: “A multidisciplinary team has also been established within the Council to prepare the Planning Scheme, which includes planners, architects and engineers. The Planning Scheme will be informed by the Engineering/Environmental Consultants’ Report.”
It’s hoped that the draft planning scheme for the North Quay will be on public display during the first quarter of 2017.