File pic: The site when it was still in use as a brewery. Photo: Eoin Hennessy
Between 30% and 35% of development on the former brewery site - the Abbey Quarter - should be housing according to the site’s Urban Design Criteria and Development Code, which was adopted by local councillors in a majority vote last week.
The Code recently concluded a period of public consultation, which saw 19 valid submissions received by the council. In her response to the submissions, the Chief Executive of Kilkenny County Council Colette Byrne recommended no changes to the Code, which is not a mandatory document but is intended to provide detailed guidance on the site’s future development.
A number of submissions to the code called for the provision of housing, while local councillors also raised the issue at last week's meeting. Cllr Sean Tyrrell asked if there was anything stopping the council building on the north end of the site ‘first thing in the morning’.
A response from the chief executive says that the code seeks ‘to provide that 30 to 35% of the development on the entire area will be housing’. Ms Byrne said that the design code actually made provision for a greater portion of the site to be used for housing than originally referenced. She said proposals around housing could be outlined in the February meeting, and there were a number of discussions on it.
“We’ve bought a number of sites to deliver housing,” she said.
“That doesn’t mean we can turn around and just start — there’s a process to go through, there’s consultation to go through.”
Cllr Tyrrell said he would be voting against the item ‘until there is a real housing review’ for the site. Senior planner Denis Malone said the Code was not about proposing specific objectives.
“This Code is not proposing anything — it’s about giving guidance around any proposals coming forward,” he said.
He added that there was an objective to put housing on the site and it was still a priority. He said while High Street is the key retail area, for city expansion, the Bateman Quay area and down onto the site was the next place to look.
“The type of retail you put down in the brewery site is important,” he said.
“You need to look at what’s going on in the city centre,” he said.
The Code’s adoption was proposed by Cllr Maurice Shortall, seconded by Cllr John Brennan, and received support from FF and FG members, as well as Cllr Tomas Breathnach. Cllrs David Kennedy, Sean Tyrrell, Melissa O’ Neill, Malcolm Noonan, and Breda Gardner voted against.
Later in the meeting it was also confirmed that the development in the western environs is progressing, with drawings being prepared to go to tender, and council representatives due to meet with the Department of Education and the ETB this week.