CORK politicians are seeking answers on Government plans for a Northern Ring Road in the city after a developer was denied permission for a housing estate extension as the site is too close to the preferred route.
The long-awaited infrastructure upgrade is not included in the Government’s capital plan but a 61-house extension to the Heathfield housing estate in Ballincollig was refused planning permission by An Bord Pleanála last week because the site lies within a designated route protection corridor for the Northern Ring Road.
Planning inspector Hugh D. Morrison recommended refusing permission on the basis that the houses could impinge on the key infrastructure route and described the road as a “project critical to the delivery of planned development”.
Cork City Council has repeatedly included the Northern Ring Road in its capital cost applications but the Government has yet to prioritise the estimated €500m route despite plans being in existence over 15 years.
It is predicted the route could significantly reduce congestion on the northside of the city and also free up the overcapacity South Ring Road by creating a city loop.
A complete Northern Ring Road would join the M8 from the toll booth at Watergrasshill to the Poulavone Roundabout in Ballincollig and the N22.
MEP Billy Kelleher has called for the ring road project to be immediately included in the Government's capital infrastructure plans and warned the south Munster region will suffer economically if it is not developed due to an over-reliance on the Jack Lynch tunnel.
City councillor John Maher (LAB) said the Government needs to “come clean” on plans and not continue to long-list the route.
“Project 2040, the State's blueprint, only barely mentions the Northern Ring Road in a piecemeal way," said Mr Maher.
"What new information does An Bord Pleanála have to suggest that the road is on the horizon of being fully linked? Are there documents to show that the road could be progressed sooner than we are led to believe? We are working on the Northside of Cork city with our hands tied behind our back.
“We need immediate clarity now from the Taoiseach and the Ministers responsible if they intend to treat Cork with the respect it deserves,” Mr Maher added.
Former Lord Mayor Tony Fitzgerald described the planning refusal as a potentially “significant development” in the future of the Northern Ring Road.
“This gives an indication of the long-term plans and the need for the Northern Ring Road going forward,” he added.