FILE PIC: One of the original CGI images of the proposed brewhouse development
A number of significant changes are being proposed to the 'brewhouse' building on the St Francis’ Abbey site in Kilkenny City to prepare it for an as-yet unidentified potential tenant.
The proposals include substantial internal alterations to the building, including changes to the floor height, a new location for a lift shaft, as well as the relocation of a staircase. Proposed changes also involve localised new foundations, new columns and internal walls, and a new floor surface. New services will be required, necessitating external works and digging.
When taking over the 13-acre former brewery site, the council opted to retain and renovate the brewhouse building, later transferred to the joint venture entered into with the ISIF. The building is the single largest structure to be retained in the site.
However, the demolition and removal of adjacent buildings has revealed a somewhat different building than what was expected. At the October meeting of Kilkenny County Council, senior engineer Tony Lauhoff gave a presentation to members updating them on the project.
In its current state, the building has no electricity, no water, and no heating. Mr Lauhoff said there are also ‘significant trips and falls’ in the building, as well as a problem with pigeons.
“In relation to the poor condition - it’s structurally sound but there is water getting into it,” he said.
“There are a number of proposed changes to the Part 8 to what we had envisioned. The recommendation is that we should revisit the planning process for the building.”
Mr Lauhoff said the toilets need to be bigger now, and the possibility of moving a stairway is being looked at. There is also an ESB substation in the building that supports some of the nearby area too.
The location of the lift is also proposed to change, to do without excavation, thanks to an existing basement.
Mr Lauhoff was asked if the potential use of the building had changed, and if a tenant for it had been found. Cllr Breda Gardner asked if the location of the lift was being moved to avoid a dig for financial reasons.
Mr Lauhoff said the relocation of the lift was in line with best practice from an archaeological perspective. He said the range of uses were still there, including office, education, research and development, and that there was no tenant as yet. There have been some expressions of interest in the property, including a recent presentation from the TSSG’s Precision Agriculture Centre of Excellence.
The cost, he said, would be a matter for the Abbey Quarter, the joint venture, but the building costs would be in the order of €8 million.
A proposal to allow the Part 8 to proceed was proposed by Fianna Fail’s Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere, and seconded by Cllr Mary Hilda Cavanagh (Fine Gael).