By Áilín Quinlan and
A MAJOR €40m development plan for Bandon, involving a hotel, a separate retail village and a 4,000-seat conference centre, could take up to two years to reach construction.
The planned development has been welcomed in the town, but observers have noted that it faces a number of planning hurdles first.
A zoning submission for the site – at the Castlebernard Estate, south west of the town – has been made to Cork County Council for the development which, it is hoped, could create 250 jobs during construction and several more if successful.
‘The potential economic boom for Bandon as a result of this project is huge,’ said Bob Brady of Phoenix Tourism Development Bandon, the newly-formed company behind the application.
Its zoning request, filed to Cork County Council on January 22nd, relates in part to a 41-acre scrubland site on the N71 just outside the town.
Independent Cllr Alan Coleman told The Southern Star that if this zoning proposal meets with favour at County Hall, it would be put into a draft of the County Development Plan, which will be published in November.
But he added a note of caution: ‘This amended draft will then go out to public consultation, and the public will be able to make submissions on the plan, and have their say on the matter. It’s by no means a fait accompli.’
Land has been earmarked by the group for a 4,000-seater conference centre, as well as a retail village along the lines of the hugely successful Kildare Village designer outlet centre.
The application also involves a 22-acre site lying 1.2km away, close to the historic ruins of Bandon’s Castlebernard House.
This field will be the location of the hotel – adjacent to Bandon Golf Club. If zoning is agreed, said Bandon native Brady, the development is likely to cost in the region of €40m and is expected to generate 400 full-time jobs.
It would be the first big post-recession development of its kind for Cork, outside of the city, he pointed out.
Mr Brady went on to explain that the three projects are aimed squarely at domestic and international tourists, while the conference centre would also host concerts, exhibitions and other large events.
‘Failte Ireland has stated that there were more than 8m visitors last year, 14% up on 2014. The Wild Atlantic Way is flying! The trouble right now is that Bandon isn’t geared up for all these tourists,’ said Bob.
He added that there was one hotel in Bandon and the town had been ‘bypassed’ by the tourist industry, which is worth over €7bn to Ireland each year.
‘Bandon sees hardly any of this,’ he said.
‘Our job is to get the tourists to stop and spend their moneyin Bandon. We are going to give people a reason to come to Bandon as a desirable tourism and shopping destination.’
Fine Gael Cork South West TD Jim Daly also gave a cautious welcome to plans for the development.
‘Developments like these are welcomed, provided they are sustainable and practical for the size of the town and in keeping with the natural habitat and can be economically viable. It’s a sign of the times and confidence in the economy,’ said Mr Daly.
Paddy Boyle of Bandon Golf Club said this proposed development would be great for Bandon.
‘It it gets the go-ahead this will be great for both Bandon and West Cork. We have a great golf course here in a beautiful setting and Bandon could badly do with another hotel,’ said Paddy.
Anne Crowley, chairman of Bandon Agricultural Show, which holds the show on a site adjoining the planned development, said it would not affect the running of their show, as they already own the showgrounds land.