County Hall’s Chief Executive Tim Lucey has defended the Council’s decision to amend the County Development Plan to allow for a Kildare Village style retail outlet in East Cork.
A UK-based company, Rioja Estates, is looking to build the project, which it says would create more than 850 permanent jobs and a further 640 during the construction of the village.
A detailed 14-page ‘advice note’ was issued to Councillors ahead of a special meeting tomorrow to discuss the objection from the Planning Regulator and the intention of Minister Damien English to enforce the OPR’s recommendation to reverse the amendment.
The OPR has said that the decision to amend the County Development Plan was premature, inconsistent with the office of the OPR and should not be made prior to a joint retail strategy for the Cork Metropolitan Area.
In his advisory, Mr Lucey said that the decision of the OPR to write to the Minister was “fundamentally flawed’ and he said he was satisfied the variations (1 & 2) of the County Development Plan were in compliance with the Retail Planning Guidelines for Planning Authorities.
“The OPR’s flawed interpretation of Council’s obligations to comply with, rather than have regard to Guidelines, could have the effect of restricting Council’s rights to form Policy on a range of matter,” he wrote.
Mr Lucey also said he thought that the council was within their rights to make the variation: “I am further satisfied that Council has a general discretion, grounded in its reserved functions, in the making of the Variation to form an opinion, having had regard to Guidelines and Government Policy.”
The special meeting of the Cork County Council will take place tomorrow in the ground floor foyer area of County Hall so all 55 councillors and officials are accommodated within socially distancing guidelines while debating the issue.
The meeting will also discuss the Freshwater Pearl Mussel in the Blackwater River which is a protected species within the Blackwater Special Area of Conservation (SAC) following a High Court Decision in favour of environmental activist Peter Sweetman.