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Alternative Development Possibilities for Church


Description of the Development

The site is located in one of Corks most prestigious areas; the property is set on 0.8 of an acre of level ground overlooking the River Lee on the grounds of Our Lady’s hospital. It is ideally located on the Lee Road just 2.4kms west of Cork City adjacent to the historic University College Cork and close to the western routes leading to Blarney (8 kms) and Killarney (80 kms) which is accessible via the newly constructed Ballincollig bypass. Equally accessible, are Cork Airport and major routes to Limerick, Waterford and Wexford. The site is currently selling for €1,900,000 and is zoned commercial. All services including mains water, electricity and mains drainage are located adjacent to the site and are easily accessible.
The church is located at the front of the site and provides an excellent development opportunity for the conversion of the existing structure into a bar/bistro. The church is of rubble limestone construction, un-rendered and with cut limestone plinths. The internal area amounts to 100 sq.m with a planned extension of a further 100sq.m at the rear, to provide additional space for the kitchen, store and staff facilities. The walls of the interior are lined with brick and there is an exposed timber truss roof. Adjacent to the church is a parking area, three developments will be considered for this site which includes the construction of a medical centre, crèche or apartments. All services including water, electricity and mains drainage are located adjacent to the site and are easily accessible.

Development Region

The development is located in the province of Munster and in the county of Cork, which is situated in the South of Ireland. Cork is the commercial and industrial capital of the South West Region with a population of 190,384 people (2006 Census) rising to 454,850 within a 60km radius.

Historic Cork

The city’s name is derived from the Irish word Corcach, meaning “marshy place” and refers to the fact that the center of Cork City is built on islands, surrounded by the River Lee, which were marshy and subjected to instances of flooding. Traditionally, Saint Finbarre has been credited with the foundation of the monastery of Cork, known to be the earliest human settlement in Cork for which historians have incontrovertible evidence.
The location of this monastic settlement was on the area arnd the present-day site of Saint Finbarre’s Cathedral. However the ancestor of the modern city was founded in the 12th century, when Viking settlers established a trading community. In the twelfth century, this settlement was taken over by invading Anglo-Norman settlers. Cork’s city charter was granted by King John of England in 1185.
Over the centuries, much of the city was rebuilt, time and again, after numerous fires. The city was at one time fully walled, and several sections and gates still remaining. During the 19th century important industries in Cork included, brewing, distilling, wool and shipbuilding. In addition, there were some municipal improvements such as gas light street lights in 1825, a local paper, The Cork Examiner was first published in 1841 and, very importantly for the development of modern industry, the railway reached Cork in 1849. Also in 1849, University College Cork opened.

Lee Road Area

In the early 1760s the Pipe Water Company was established to provide a water supply to the city of Cork. The architect/engineer Davis Ducart designed the Waterworks which were completed by 1768. The site, located on the lee road included a pumping house and open storage reservoirs which were constructed on the hillside to the north of the river at the same location as the present Waterworks buildings. By the late 1840’s it was felt that the water supply to the city required upgrading, as the population of the city was increasing rapidly, new suburbs developing on the city’s north side could not benefit from the existing system. In 1854, the Pipe Water Company instructed John Benson, had prepared a plan for a new Waterworks, Work began with the laying of new cast-iron mains pipes in 1857 and continued for a number of years. By February 1859 these new water pipes had reached the military barracks on the Old Youghal Road. By this time the Pipe Water Company had been taken over by Cork Corporation, who remains in charge of the municipal water supply to this day. (Lifetime Labs)

Local Industry

Corks main area of industry is in pharmaceuticals, with Pfizer Inc. and Swiss company Novartis being big employers in the region. Cork is also the European headquarters of Apple Inc. where their computers are manufactured and their European call centre, R&D and Apple-Care is hosted. In total, they currently employ over 1,800 staff.
EMC Corporation located in the area of Ovens, in the outskirts of the city is another large I.T. employer with over 1,600 staff in their 52,000 sq metre (560,000 sq. ft.) engineering, manufacturing, and technical services facility. Many of these large multinational organisations have been attracted to the area due the low corporation tax rate of 12.5%.

Planning Issues and Restrictions

After consultation with a Cork City Planning officer a number of issues were raised regarded the conditions of the planning. The site lies within a category A Landscape Protection Zone as per Cork Coty Development Plan 2004. This category of land is defined in Table 8.1 of the Development Plan as “Visually important land, including land forming the setting to existing buildings” According to paragraph 8.20 of the Plan “There will be a general presumption by means of a landscape assessment and appropriate landscape and building design proposals” The proposed site at the Lee Road is a visually sensitive area, the design of the structures will therefore have to be landscape rather than building orientated.
As stated in Policy BE 8 of the Development Plan: “The City Council will endeavour to devise and implement policies to positively encourage and facilitate the careful refurbishment of historic built environment for sustainable and economically viable uses.” To comply with plan it will be necessary to adhere to following conditions:

  • The development shall be carried out in accordance with the drawings and specifications submitted.
  • A visual impact study must be conducted to determine how the how the development will affect the landscape.
  • The redevelopment of the chapel shall be supervised by a conservation consultant with appropriate qualifications and/or experience in conservation and restoration of historic buildings in order to protect the architectural characteristics and visual appearance of this existing structure.
  • The contractor appointed shall have an expertise and demonstrate high standards of workmanship and have previous experience in restoration of historic structures.
  • The site is not considered suitable for a “super-pub” or for a nightclub. In order to protect the character and amenities of the area, the development is restricted to be used as a restaurant with ancillary public house.

Under the Landscape Assessment Guidelines (2000) the classification of the site at the Lee Road was obtained from the following table:
The site is classified as a category A as it forms part of the setting for the existing landmark building (Former Our Lady’s Hospital). The guidelines state that:
There will be a general presumption against development in Landscape Protection Zones unless it can be demonstrated by means of a visual landscape assessment and appropriate building design proposal that the proposed development will enhance the overall landscape character of the site and its visual context.

Factors Favouring Refurbishment

In the initial feasibility for the Lee Road church, it was necessary to consider the advantages and disadvantages to its refurbishment. Consideration will be given to both the social and economic factors.

Social Factors in favour of refurbishment

  • Energy/Resource conservation – Just as there is a current growing awareness of the need to recycle domestic waste, buildings with a useable structure should also be recycled.
  • Preservation of historic buildings – The church on the grounds of the site is listed as a protected structure, buildings which are historic merit need to be refurbished to maintain their integrity and thereby the amenity for the nation.
  • Social resistance to change – Buildings are an integral part of an urban fabric and society may well demonstrate forceful views in restricting change. Its arguments will centre upon:
  • retaining historical and social continuity
  • preserving familiar landscape scenes
  • conserving existing communities and the social fabric

Economic Factors in favour of refurbishment

  • Shorter construction period – A refurbishment scheme can usually be carried out quicker than redevelopment which results in:
  • a prompt turnover of finance;
  • earlier occupation of the building;
  • quicker return on capital employed;
  • a reduction in the effects of inflation, high interest rates and other risks.
  • Condition of the building – In the case of the Lee Road church, the structure itself is in relatively sound condition, the savings on the building components may make a refurbishment scheme cheaper than reconstruction.
  • Expectation of high land values – The future expectation of high land values may provoke refurbishment to create a short life use so as to occupy the building and keep the site in its present use until fully ripe for exploitation. This will avoid leaving a building empty for long periods while long term plans are being formulated.
  • Constraints on development – site conditions and organisational constraints (e.g. Cork County Council planning restrictions) may make redevelopment unsuitable for a particular or intended use and therefore unprofitable.

Limiting Factors in refurbishment

One of the major factors in factors in favour of the refurbishment of the church is the cost saving from the retention of the existing materials, whilst this can reduce the total cost of the scheme, the following criteria required consideration.

  • Diminishing returns – The economic life of a building can be said to end when a site value in a new use exceeds the value of the existing building. A building requires redevelopment when the value of the building is below the potential use value of the land and hence yields a diminishing return.
  • Life expectancy – Property investment tends to be long-term in nature and normally a paying back of sixty year is allowed in property investment calculations. There is little doubt that a new building will last the sixty years or more, whereas a refurbished building may not have been designed and constructed with materials appropriate for long life.
  • High cost of borrowing – In general, financial institutions are unprepared to invest in old buildings due to inherent high financial risks. If they provide finance the assumption of high risk can often lead to a higher rate of interest.
  • Management of refurbishment – the extent of work is not predictable; hence very difficult to design, cost plan and cost control. It can often be a complex, non-repetitive and labour intensive operation and does not facilitate high productivity.
  • Attract high tender prices- the contactor will often assume a high undefined risk element and uncertainty of cost when the pre-contract survey is inadequate.
  • Increased cost of Health and Safety

Source: Harlow (1994)

Rationale for Refurbishment

After taking all factors into consideration, it was felt that the benefits of refurbishment outweigh the costs of redevelopment. Also according to Harlow (1994) the emphasis is moving towards conservation leading to the search for historical and social continuity by fining ways of re-using an existing fabric rather than accelerating the cycle of replacement”
The structure itself is in a reasonable sound condition with only minor restorations required; reusing the existing building will decrease construction time, reduce site overheads and retain the historical and social continuity of the Lee road area.

Review of alternative development possibilities

Development 1 – Medical Centre

The first development to contribute to the bar/bistro development is the construction of a medium sized three storey structures; this will comprise 2 No. doctor’s surgeries, a nurse’s office and associated accommodation including waiting, reception and storage areas. It has a floor area of approx 800m2 and an overall ridge height of 8.2m. Its overall design is of a contemporary nature utilizing feature glazing and an extended limestone surround to complement the features of the adjacent church.

Early Feasibility Study

Item Description Cost/m2 Floor Area Total Cost
1.0 Site Clearance €80.00 610 €48,800.00
2.0 Substructure €150.00 610 €91,500.00
3.0 Superstructure €380.00 610 €231,800.00
4.0 Internal Finishes €270.00 610 €164,700.00
5.0 Fittings and Furnishings €150.00 610 €91,500.00
6.0 Service Installations €555.00 610 €338,550.00
7.0 External Works €163.00 610 €99,430.00
8.0 Preliminaries €110.00 610 €67,100.00
9.0 Contingencies €20,000.00
Total Estimated Cost €1,153,380.00
Rental Price Per Month 6000
Rental Price Per Annum 72000
Total Income per Annum 72000
Maintenance 7000
Landscaping 2500 9500
Profit per annum 62500
0 -1183880
1 62500
2 68750 Rate -1.595%
3 75625
4 83188
5 91506
6 100657
7 110723
8 117366
9 124408
10 131872
Net Present Value IR£0.00
Internal Rate of Return -1.5949%

Development 2 – Crèche

This development entails the construction a crèche that will serve the 180 apartments in Atkins Hall, River Towers and The Mews. The structure will be single storey building with car parking at the rear. The crèche will accommodate up to 30 children (depending on ages). Other facilities would include a fully equipped indoor play area and an out-door playground. There is no doubt that there is demand for a crèche in the area, the development would cater for the residents of the nearby apartments. Students of the nearby University College Cork could also utilize these facilities.

Crèche Early Feasibility Study

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