North Quays plan will see city realise its full potential

Leading architects and developers of Belfast Titanic Quarter are set to work their magic over 17 acres in the country’s largest regeneration project to date

Work is progressing smoothly on the flagship development. One of the country’s most ambitious regeneration projects to date, it will change how people live, work and travel in Waterford

Builders behind Belfast’s Titanic Quarter are ready to submit a planning application for the first phase of Waterford’s ambitious North Quays project. Harcourt Developments have master planned the 17-acre site, with celebrity architect Hugh Wallace.

Speaking to the Business Post last week, Pat Power, director of sales at Harcourt Developments, said that once planning permission was obtained, Phase One, which includes a new 160-bed hotel, 350 apartments and retail space, would be completed over three to five years.

“We are about to submit a detailed planning application for the first phase of the site,” he said. “This central section will be the area that links the new sustainable transport bridge across the river Suir, and the new public transport hub. Plans include a hotel and conference centre, an ‘aparthotel’ with 165 beds, residential apartments, retail, food and beverage space of approximately 45,000 square feet, office space of around 70,000 square feet, a creche, two town squares and a waterfront promenade.”

It’s a great city and the more you are there, the more fabulous it is

Power, who is from Waterford, said the transport bridge would link the North Quays to the Clock Tower, which dates back to 1863. The Waterford to New Ross cycle greenway will also transect the new site.

“In addition to Phase One, the North Quays would become a tourism destination,” he said. “A large tourism project is being evaluated for the next phase which will add to the vibrancy of the location. Transportation, sustainability and connectivity all are big components of the project.

“Certainly, inspiration and insights are being drawn from our experiences elsewhere in terms of large-scale urban regeneration projects we have undertaken.

“The right mix of uses and a high-quality public realm are key to ensuring a vibrant, successful scheme. The creation of a unique attraction within a development will draw footfall and accelerate regeneration.

“Waterford City and County Council is the vendor and it has been a positive influence through its enthusiastic determination to ensure that a development progresses on the North Quays to allow for the expansion of the city core. This will provide for employment opportunities, in addition to the needed residential accommodation. The North Quays will provide an economic boost and business growth.”

Douglas Wallace Architects are the projects design and architect team. Founding member of the Dublin-based firm, and TV presenter, Hugh Wallace, said the North Quays was an “amazing” regeneration project.

“It’s an amazing project that has sat there for 20 years,” he said. “This is one of the most exciting regeneration projects taking place in Ireland at the moment, and that’s because it will balance Waterford city. It’s out of kilter and just needs that balance with the North Quays. And the whole idea of connectivity - a new train station, the cycle way, and the pedestrian bridge - across to the southside of the city is about creating urban grain, tactility, and a genuine sense of place that’s reinforcing Waterford city as the destination that it should be.

“The fact that the site is on the northside means it gets all the sun, so you factor this and the landscape into the designs.

“It’s very interesting there’s the view from the North Quays, and the view from the other side of the river, and the other view is when you are on the wharf and the intimacy in those new restaurants and landscape areas with cycle paths.

“Our designs are based on the connection with the water and it really has to do with creating and reinforcing Waterford as a destination. There will be two hotels, 350 apartments, food and beverage outlets, a small amount of retail initially, and it’s about this site enhancing the existing city centre and what that already offers. It’s not about being in competition with it: that’s very important. It’s about symbiotic relationships between our development and the existing city.”

Wallace said his ongoing work in Waterford has allowed him to enjoy more of the county as well as the city.

“It’s a great city and the more you are there, the more fabulous it is,” he said. “But it’s not just the city: you have places like Tramore and other parts of the county that are well worth the visit.”

Work is progressing smoothly on the flagship development. One of the country’s most ambitious regeneration projects to date, it will change how people live, work and travel in Waterford.

“The progress to date on this publicly funded project must be commended,” said Michael Walsh, chief executive of Waterford City and County Council. “The transformative effects for Waterford and the region will soon be apparent as, upon completion, this development will not only increase employment and provide much needed high-quality residential units, but it will also enhance our retail, tourism and cultural offering and reinforce Waterford’s reputation as the ‘Best Place to Live in Ireland’.”

Walsh said the benefits of the project were already being felt, with jobs already created in construction works, and that even more employment opportunities would be available from next year.

“The direct benefit to Waterford of the investment in the Special Development Zone (SDZ), site is anticipated to be in excess of €350 million over the next six years, with 200 people employed during construction and between 1,200 and 1,500 people employed in phase one of the development from 2025,” he said.

Following cabinet approval the public infrastructure works are funded with a public investment of €207 million, including €100.6 million of Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF) funding and a further €70 million from the Department of Transport through the National Transport Authority (NTA).

North Quays is one of the top ten projects included in the National Planning Framework (NPF) “Ireland 2040”. Its ambition is to enable Waterford to become a regional city of scale, leading the economic development for the southeast and expanding and enhancing the local economy to realise the potential of the city and the region as a whole.

The development is anticipated to combine commercially attractive buildings, such as the life sciences, social and senior housing, healthcare, university services, office and retail.

In February, the Minister for Public Expenditure, National Development Plan Delivery and Reform, Paschal Donohoe visited the site: almost a year to the day, since ground was broken by former Taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

Already, pillars for the new bridge across the river are under construction along with one of the two new access bridges, while the walls for the new train station are under way.