Butter giant Dairygold’s motto is ‘golden valleys, growing naturally’.
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As the company’s subsidiary enters into a €237m property scheme, it is clear housing could become the most melt-in-the-mouth “vision” for the former farmers’ co-op yet.

The rather suitably named ‘Creamfields’ development will include a 15-storey tower, one of 11 blocks containing 609 dwellings on the site in Cork city.

The major development will include 257 build-to-rent apartments.

The scheme which has been granted planning permission by An Bord Pleanála will include 189 one-bed dwellings, 338 two-bed dwellings, 48 three-bed dwellings and 34 four-bed homes.

Dairygold has been in existence in some form since the 1900s, when Co Cork families joined together to farm the “lush green pastures of Ireland’s fertile Golden Valleys”, its website reads.

And now it appears the firm with farming at its heart is seeking to boost its future by becoming involved in property.

Two organisations, Ballyclough Cooperative Creamery Limited and Mitchelstown, joined forces to form Dairygold in 1990 to become Ireland’s largest farmer-owned cooperative.

The Creamfields development is a vacant 3.25-hectare site, the former home of CMP Dairies on Kinsale Road.

Dairygold’s strategy for what is described as its “non-core property assets” is to maximise their value and to divest of them when the company believes it can get the highest return.

The expectation is that this money would then allow for investment in other business activities.

The Creamfields plan proposes to deliver a residential and commercial area that will boost the regeneration of the Kinsale Road area of the city.

It includes a superior quality residential apartment scheme with an associated primary care facility and other amenities including creche, gym, cafes and restaurants.

A separate, but parallel application, has been submitted to Cork City Council, for a primary care centre and ancillary facilities on the site.

The co-operative started by farmers, seems to be taking a fresh direction with its subsidiary, Watfore Ltd, getting the green light for the landmark tower on the southern central suburbs of Cork

The company says it is moulded with a “deep-rooted tradition and history in Ireland’s dairy industry”, with a “vision…to be a top 20, global, farmer-owned co-operative who supply natural, sustainable and innovative dairy produce that nourishes people all over the world”.

In April, the Cork-based firm also announced record revenues of €1.17bn for 2021.

An Bord Pleanála granted planning permission for the scheme after its inspector, Elaine Power, concluded the proposed development “would largely have a positive impact due to the current vacant nature of the site and the high quality of the scheme which would aid with placemaking.”

In a further endorsement of the scheme, Ms Power also stated that the proposal “is not monolithic and is 12 blocks of varying heights and scales”.

With a third of dairy farms seeking to fill vacancies ahead of calving season, Kiwis are being encouraged to give dairy farming a chance.

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