Major expansion of Penneys store in Cork city centre approved despite appeal from local property owner

Major Expansion Of Penneys Store In Cork City Centre Approved Despite Appeal From Local Property Owner
he site is occupied by the existing Penneys store with a number of other smaller retail units, most of which are currently vacant. Photo: Google Maps
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Seán McCárthaigh

Plans for a major expansion of the Penneys store in Cork city centre have received approval from An Bord Pleanála following its rejection of an appeal against the development by the owner of a nearby property.

The board has upheld the original decision of Cork City Council to grant planning permission for plans submitted by Primark and O’Flynn Construction (Cork) for the redevelopment of a block of buildings bordered by Patrick Street, Oliver Plunkett Street, Cook Street and Robert Street.


The site is occupied by the existing Penneys store with a number of other smaller retail units, most of which are currently vacant.

The plans provide some demolition works and the conversion of several of the buildings to amalgamate retail units to create an extended Penneys store.

Four of the buildings on St Patrick’s Street are protected structures.

The overall retail space will increase from the floor area of the existing Penneys store of 5,476m² over four floors to 8,856m².


The council’s decision to approve the development had been appealed by the owner of a premises on Cook Street who claimed she had accrued rights over Elbow Lane – a narrow gated thoroughfare within the block which is used for servicing existing shops.

Cork City Council had stated that the lane is subject to a public right of way and is considered a public road under its control, although it does not hold documentary title to the land.

However, the appellant said a letter of consent provided to Primark and O’Flynn Construction by the council relating to Elbow Lane to lodge their application was “flawed.”

The appellant claimed the developers of the Penneys site are required to make an application separately to the council to seek to extinguish the right of way.


She claimed that the development would “sacrifice” a lane of significant historical importance.

The appellant also complained that no retail impact assessment had been carried out to ascertain the negative impact which the development of the Penneys site would have on adjoining businesses arising from the loss of servicing and bin storage facilities provided by the use of Elbow Lane.

However, consultants for the developers claimed the appeal was an attempt to use its planning application to determine issues relating to the right of way.

They pointed out that any matter relating to extinguishing the right of way rested with the council.


They added that the developers intended to request the local authority to start procedures to have the right of way on Elbow Lane extinguished.

Concern about future access to Elbow Lane was also voiced by the owners of Le Chateau Bar on St Patrick’s Street who had used it in connection with their business.

A planning inspector with An Bord Pleanála said the loss of a portion of Elbow Lane under the plans was not significant in terms of the overall historic street pattern of the area.

The inspector said Primark and O’Flynn Construction had also demonstrated sufficient interest with the letter of consent from the council over the use of Elbow Lane to make their planning application but acknowledged issues relating to Elbow Lane would have to be pursued through “appropriate legal channels.”

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Subject to compliance with a number of planning conditions, An Bord Pleanála said the proposed development would provide for enhanced shopping and would assist “in maintaining and strengthening the role of the city centre as the primary retail centre in the Cork Metropolitan Area.”

The conditions include requirements concerning the conservation and preservation of archaeological materials and features of the buildings as well as the provision of an emergency management plan for flood events.

The board also expressed satisfaction that the project would not adversely impact on the built and cultural heritage of the areas or on other properties in the vicinity.

Planners with Cork City Council had welcomed the development as they observed that St Patrick’s Street had suffered from the closure of several businesses, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and competition from suburban shopping centres.

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