Architectural impression of how Exchange St would look from the City Square car-park entrance.

Architectural impression of how Exchange St would look from the City Square car-park entrance.

The backer of a €15m project on a vacant site in Waterford – who is also involved in other major developments outside the city centre – says he’s “flabbergasted” by the short shrift it’s received from council planners.

According to Dr Gerard O’Hare CBE, Managing Director of Parker Green International, the development of retail units and a multi-storey car-park with 220 spaces at the junction of Exchange Street and High Street has the potential to generate 200 jobs during construction and up to 50 when finished.

Having only lodged the planning application on July 22 (a revision of previous proposals refused on appeal), he found it “incredible” that the council could flatly reject the development within eight weeks without requesting any further information or discussing it with his company.

“As with any projects we seek planning permission for in this country or overseas, we engaged with the local authority in pre-application discussions and believed our proposal was on the right track,” he said.

“With a planning fee of more than €35,000 paid less than eight weeks before the decision was reached to reject the project, this was a serious application entitled to be dealt with in a serious way.

“Frankly, we are flabbergasted at the planning outcome and think this decision is simply wrong. This is a proposal that can be delivered immediately – even in the present market”, he insists. “We now have no alternative but to proceed with an appeal to An Bord Pleanála.”

Just under a year ago the board upheld the City Council’s refusal on the grounds that it was an inappropriate design, and of excessive scale, bulk and height in the context of the area’s character and neighbouring protected structures.

But Dr O’Hare believes its modified proposal “represents an exciting urban regeneration project for this dilapidated and derelict part of the city. The design provides for an attractive new streetscape that would regenerate and improve Exchange Street and High St, which are currently dominated by the City Square car-park entrance and loading areas along with the telephone exchange. We also plan for an active street frontage of appropriate scale that would offer much-needed connectivity with the Quays.”

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