CORK City Council has passed a €6.5 million infrastructure project which could pave the way for large scale development on the docklands.
The Cork Docklands to City Centre Road Network Scheme was rubber-stamped by councillors despite an attempt to amend the project, submitted by the Green Party, to delay a flood defence element at Albert Quay East which will include raised quay walls.
The level of the quay is to be raised by approximately 900mm to make it sufficiently high to avoid the need for a flood defence wall.
The solution is confined to Albert Quay East which is currently operating as a working wharf. Albert Quay West and Terence MacSwiney Quay will remain unchanged.
Local lobby group Save Cork City council had claimed this element is an attempt to start the controversial Office of Public Works Lower Lee Flood Protection Scheme under the guise of a different project.
However, Cork City Council has continually insisted the docklands scheme is separate from both the Lower Lee Flood Protection Scheme and the Morrison's Island Public Realm project.
The consultation process for the project received 227 submissions. The Green Party now believes there will be a legal challenge to the scheme. The party’s amendment was defeated by 22 votes to seven.
The scheme, as a whole, was passed by 24 votes to five. The existing road network in the area is regularly congested at peak times and the scheme will attempt to improve flows between the city centre, Docklands and the N27 through a raft of measures which will include works on Victoria Road, Albert Road, Centre Park Road, Monahan Road, and as far as City Hall.
Developer Brian O’Callaghan, whose company O’Callaghan Properties recently purchased 31 acres of land for €47.5 million from agri-services group Origin Enterprises on the quays, had warned last week that passing the project was vital to the regeneration of the docklands.
City Hall director of roads and transportation Gerry O’Beirne rejected suggestions that the consultation process for the scheme was flawed or not inclusive.
He said there are multiple elements to the project and only one small aspect of flood mitigation within it. He told councillors it would be “wholly irresponsible” to ignore the flood protection element when there was simple and appropriate flood mitigation available.
“This is largest docklands regeneration site in Europe. The idea that council would adopt a scheme and not include a simple mitigation element is not advised. The council is obliged to have regard to flood risk. To not do so would be bizarre.”
City Hall chief executive Ann Doherty added in relation to claims the project could now be legally challenged: “Our whole life is always in risk of being sued but we have carried out our business as judicially as we can.
"This is a public realm project and it is not a flood defence project but flood protection measures had to be considered as part of the project.”