Apple has received planning permission for an expansion at its European HQ in Cork that is to deliver 1,000 jobs.
An Bord Pleanála gave the expansion plan the go-ahead after dismissing an appeal against the development by local residents.
The plan by the iPhone maker comprises a four-storey office block and a 752-space car park that is planned to accommodate the additional 1,000 employees.
The move will bring Apple’s workforce in Cork to 6,000 and in documents lodged with Cork City Council, Apple stated that the proposed new office space will enable Apple to expand its workforce at the Hollyhill site while also supporting its economic development objectives.
The appeal by residents has thrown off Apple’s timeline for the development. It told the City Council that it planned to commence construction on the project, subject to planning, in June of this year and the proposed development to become operational during November.
However, with the appeal delaying the planning process by four months, it is now likely that the new development will not come on stream until 2017 as the construction period is five months.
Apple has confirmed that the construction phase will employ 200 workers.
In an Environment Impact Statement (EIS) lodged with the City Council, Apple warned that “it is possible that if the development did not go ahead, there would be a potential serious negative impact on the local and national economy”.
The EIS further warned: “Restricting the expansion of the campus could result in Apple relocating to an alternative location which could have serious implications for the economy.”
The residents’ appeal was lodged by Thomas Murphy for ‘Residents of Ardcullen’ adjacent to the Apple HQ site.
In the appeal, Mr Murphy stated: “We are objecting on the grounds that we are now practically living on an industrial estate, our homes being closer to the existing extension that the staff car park is to it.
“When we were housed on this estate our homes were facing a green space. This was the case for 20 years. However, we now open our curtains and front doors to an office block and the people working inside the building are in full view and clearly visible from our homes.”
Mr Murphy added: “The last extension took its toll on us and our families.”
Mr Murphy said: “The plan to now build a four-storey building will further diminish not just our view, but as our homes are two-storey units and the proposed build is to be four storeys.
“This will overshadow our homes and have a very serious impact on us as residents.”
Mr Murphy claimed that the proposed extension “will be too close to our homes and has the real potential to do further damage to our properties.”
He claimed: “There is plenty of land to build on the opposite side of the plant and we suggest that this be utilised by Apple it extend their plant and we further ask that those charged with regenerating the area remember that we the residents have to live here.”
The objection was signed by 32 residents.
However, in its formal order giving the plan the go-ahead, An Bord Pleanála determined the plan would not seriously injure the visual or residential amenities of property in the vicinity, would be acceptable in terms of traffic safety and convenience and be in accordance of the Cork City Development Plan.
In reaching its determination, it stated that it had regard to the established use and planning history on the site, to the nature, extent and design of the proposed development and to the pattern of development in the vicinity.
Its inspector in the case, Pauline Fitzpatrick, stated that while the proposal will be a prominent element in views from Ardcullen housing estate, the proposed landscaping proposals along the affected boundaries should assist in ameliorating the impact.
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