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Response to Munster Express SDZ North Quays questions

2016-06-08_08541: How many submissions and observations did the Council receive during the pre-draft consultation phase between January 29th and March 31st? (Will we, the public, get a look at these submissions?)

The Council received 16 submissions as part of the pre draft consultation phase. It is not intended that these submissions will be made public at this point however as part of the next phase, which is a statutory process, any submissions received will form part of a Chief Executives report and will be available to the public.

2: The artist’s impressions for the site, as publicly displayed at the launch of the SDZ…these are drawings and not the only consideration for the site, I presume that’s a correct assertion?

Correct, WCCC are working from a blank canvas in the preparation of the Planning scheme and the artist impressions simply highlight previous visions for the site.

3: Would the Council consider an academic presence on the site, i.e. WIT, which would, I suggest, represent a long-term, sustainable use for a section of the redeveloped site?

The SDZ designation allows, amongst others, for educational uses and such uses will be examined in the context of the planning scheme.

4: Will the Council be exploring the prospect of art installations on the site as has occurred on other redeveloped dockside developments in recent decades, such as in Nantes, France?

It is likely that the site will accommodate some features of an artistic/cultural nature.

5: In terms of flood defences for the site, would Kilkenny County Council be called upon to provide additional defences upriver of the site, given the flooding that has occurred in recent years at Plunkett Station and the historic flooding in that area, i.e. defending the North Quay alone will not completely defend the SDZ site from flooding?

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 WCCC and appropriate action taken to ensure adequate flood defences.

6: Is the Council cognisant of the existing vacant office space in Waterford city centre – 50 per cent at Railway Square and 30 per cent at Maritana Gate – when it comes to finalising what proportion of office space will be devoted within the floor space of the redeveloped project?

The portion of office space to be included in the SDZ has yet to be decided; however WCCC is aware of the issues in relation to office accommodation in Waterford. 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.

7: The non-statutory nature of this phase means, I presume, that the Council can adopt, particularly at this moment in time, a pretty flexible approach to how the project shall ultimately unfold? Or am I wrong in making such an assertion?

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 Pleanala.  It is imperative that the scheme reflects the SDZ designation as to its importance as an economic driver of national/regional significance.

8: “Critically, the draft planning scheme shall have to be prepared by the City & County Council, meaning the prospect remains that a Government of a different composition, and with different policy objectives, may make final approval on the SDZ submission.” (The Munster Express, December 1st 2015). Has the Council, as of yet, engaged with the new Government in relation to the North Quay project?

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 Pleanala.

9: When will we see the draft planning scheme for the site?

It is anticipated that the draft planning scheme will be on public display in the first quarter of 2017.

10: Who is spearheading the planning scheme within the Council and how many staff are engaged in its preparation?

A Steering Group consisting of CE WCCC and CEO of Waterford Port with other senior management staff members has been established to oversee the project.  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 (See No5 above).

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