REASSURANCES in relation to the funding of public realm works directly connected to the North Quays Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) were welcomed by South Kilkenny County Councillors last week.
Addressing the Piltown Municipal District’s June meeting, Sean McKeown, Kilkenny County Council’s Economic Director of Services, re-iterated these commitments following Waterford City & County Council’s disengagement from its contractual partnership with Falcon Real Estate.
“Obviously, this is regrettable because (Waterford Council had) a working relationship there (with Falcon) but Waterford has confirmed that they are fully committed to the development of the North Quays. It is their intention to immediately go back into the marketplace for other development partners so that’s reassuring.”
Referring to the public realm works earmarked via the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), Mr McKeown said that Waterford City & County Council remains committed to delivering all itemised elements on either side of the boundary.
“It’s full steam ahead as far as the public realm aspects of the project are concerned,” he affirmed, “and that’s great news”.
Confirming that Waterford City & County Council remains the sole owner of the North Quays site, Mr McKeown added that his colleagues across the Suir had received commitments from central government regarding the security of the URDF allocation.
He added: “The reality is that no matter who the commercial partner is, the public realm aspects still have to be delivered so again that statement there (by Waterford Council) is reassuring.”
With “a fundamental reappraisal” of the scheme to be undertaken, Mr McKeown said that Waterford Council is “going back to the market place” regarding the site’s commercial element – including retail, the proposed hotel and apartment accommodation.
A Request for Tender is due to be issued this week by City Hall for a commercial property adviser to assist in such market re-engagement.
“A revised planning permission is likely but the fact that the North Quays is a Strategic Development Zone, it’s likely that the planning permission will take only three months so it’s a speedier outcome,” said Mr McKeown.
The main construction contract for the North Quays’ URDF-monied works, the Sustainable Transport Bridge, the Transport Hub and access infrastructure works, including the new Dock Road roundabout, is progressing. Tender documentation for these works is now complete and will now be subject to an independent review.
A planning application for the western flood defence works is due to be submitted to An Bord Pleanála this month. Waterford Council, following an agreement reached with Kilkenny last Monday, will undertake the 50 metres (approximately) of works relevant to the project located in Kilkenny.
Meanwhile, Kilkenny County Council’s preparatory works on its URDF-funded projects – the upgrade of the Abbey and Belmont Roads on approach to the North Quays, the new Belmont Link Road between Belmont Road and Abbey Road and the N29 Port Road – are progressing.
Waterford Council is also progressing a Part 8 planning application for an access ramp from the South East Greenway to the Abbey Road, with public consultation due to commence shortly.
Tenders have been received for the relocation of the Ferrybank Pump Station, which is currently situated on the North Quays, with tender documents for the South Plaza Enabling works carrying a June 17 return date.
A tender for rock stabilisation works for the cliff face immediately behind Plunkett Railway Station is “to be issued immediately”, while an independent design safety certification process for both the Transport Hub and Sustainable Transport Bridge is “due to be completed shortly”.
New Municipal District Chair, Cllr Pat Dunphy (FG) said “it was great to see the URDF parts of the project still moving ahead at pace” in the wake of the Falcon “shock”.
He added: “I’ve no doubt another partner will come in there, though maybe not on the same scale. The connection of the greenways through the Sustainable Transport Bridge is vitally important for us so it’s good news that all of the proposed infrastructure is continuing as already agreed. That’s something we have to be thankful for.”
Cllr Eamon Aylward (FF) sounded a more cautionary note on a potential new commercial ally, stating: “It’s going to be difficult enough to find another partner – not everyone has €300 million to throw around these days.”
A total purse of €110.6m has been provided for the North Quays via the URDF, €30m of which was committed by the Department of Transport via the National Transport Authority.