Waterford is set to get a massive €300 million windfall investment
By Ciaran Murphy
Waterford is set to get a massive €300 million windfall investment that could make it one of the top shopping destinations in the country after objections against it were withdrawn before an An Bord Pleanala hearing at the last minute.
Plans for the investment by a Saudi Arabian investor will see a new shopping centre on the Waterford’s 17-acre north quays, which would be considerably larger than Cork’s Mahon Point site.
The group, Fawaz Alhokair, last year also agreed terms with Waterford City and County council and NAMA to purchase a five-acre site on Michael Street that has been lying idle for almost a decade, along with the north quays site.
Waterford City and County Councillors gave it the go-ahead following a vote in March 2017.
However, the Special Designated Zone’s development was held up as two valid objections were made against the development.
And while one was withdrawn yesterday, the second was withdrawn prior to the hearing this morning. Pat Moran, of Cheekpoint in Co Waterford, withdrew his objection on the grounds that access for cruise ships to the city may have been affected.
Eddie Lynch, the owner of the Top Petrol Station in Ferrybank, was in favour of the development but objected to the compulsory purchase of his property.
Funding estimated at upwards of €50 million is still awaited from Central Government, while the development will probably have 10% social housing included.
A detailed plan of the proposed development has not yet been released but it is expected that brands such as GAP, Clarks, Zara, Banana Republic, Pull & Bear, Lipsy and Mango could become interested in coming to Waterford, as these are all in Al Hokair’s brand portfolio.
Marks & Spencer is expected to be the anchor tenant for the Michael Street development, which borders Newgate and New Streets, along with Stephen’s Street, Patrick Street and Brown’s Lane. Construction is expected to begin on the site soon.
Waterford’s Plunkett [railway] Station is expected to move into the north quays site, along with a hotel, apartments, offices and retail units in the 300,000-square foot development.
Waterford council was able to gain the north quays as a Strategic Development Zone [SDZ], meaning it is cited as an area of special economic and developmental importance. This could fast track planning, and should, now that objections have been withdrawn.
Waterford City and County Council Manager Michael Walsh, on WLRfm, said: “Historically, there might have been a reputation around objection and otherwise. There is a hell of a lot of work that’s gone into it. We’re now, steaming on really.”
Chamber of Commerce CEO Gerald Hurley said that the development will “elevate Waterford as a true destination to explore [in] the south east”.
He said that it will allow the city and wider region to reach its “unrealised economic development potential”.