PLANS for more than 130 new homes in a Mahon industrial estate will come before councillors on Monday evening in what is expected to be a heated debate about the future of housing construction in the city.
The proposals are for a seven-acre site on Bessboro Road, across the road from the Sacred Heart Convent and bordering the Abtran call centre.
The site is currently designated for technical and industrial use and, therefore, requires a change in zoning to allow the development of 135 residential units to go ahead.
It is the second proposal for the area to come before Cork City Council this year, with councillors giving the go-ahead for 66 homes on Bessboro Road in April.
Two public meetings have taken place with residents in recent weeks with some disagreement between elected members in the area.
Independent councillor Kieran McCarthy said that he cannot support the proposals. He highlighted traffic as a primary concern which was raised during consultation with residents.
The development includes provisions for 200 car parking spaces and could significantly add to the already-busy road network in the area, he said.
Significant investment is taking place in the roads infrastructure in the area, including the current works on the Skehard Road.
Mr McCarthy said that he does not believe these works are ‘a cure all’ to all the traffic issues in the area.
“The whole area has a serious traffic problem at several times in the day,” he said.
“The ongoing road works give some alleviation but are not a panacea.
Plans to build further houses in Bessboro is just not sustainable in my view. The local road infrastructure cannot take any more cars.
“I am all for building houses but in a sustainable way. For me building houses in an industrial estate is just not sustainable. It is either an industrial estate or not.”
Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill, on the other hand, is urging the elected members to back the zoning. It requires the support of two-thirds of the councillors to change.
“I understand the concerns,” he said.
“But this site has zoning for industry already, which could bring 1,500 people to the area. This is much more sustainable.
“These houses -13 of which would be social - are desperately needed.
“You cannot talk about a housing crisis and then reject plans for housing.”
Mr Cahill said that the development would likely take two to three years to complete. By this time, the roadworks in the area will be complete.
“These works are underway and they will be done by the time anyone is moving into these houses,” he said.
“They will go a long way towards solving these issues.”