€6m upgrade will kickstart Morrison’s Island regeneration

€6m upgrade will kickstart Morrison’s Island regeneration
Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island

CITY councillors have claimed that the €6 million public realm upgrade at Morrison’s Island will kickstart the regeneration of the area.

The south-facing quayside has long been considered to be under-used in the city centre. It is currently home to a number of empty and, in some cases, derelict buildings, as well as more than 100 parking spaces.

The plans also include flood defence elements, including the provision of integrated floodgates and heightened limestone walls, with works expected to take 12 months to finish after construction commences before the end of the year.

Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island
Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island

Conor Healy, chief executive of Cork Chamber, said the decision to move ahead with the project a welcome one and he urged City Hall to move ahead without delay. Mr Healy also called for clear communication around efficient and cost-effective alternative parking arrangements.

The proposals prompted significant concern from interested parties, including the Save Cork City group who claimed the designs are not ambitious enough, and city traders who are concerned about the loss of more than 100 parking spaces as a result of the works. More than 70 submissions made during the consultation process related to the loss of parking spaces in the area. Last week, City Hall carried out a survey of the parking spaces in the area. It found that over the three days of May 8-10, 60 cars parked on each of the three consecutive days, accounting for 41% of the use. “The pattern would of usage point towards commuter parking rather than parking by shoppers,” the report noted.

Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island
Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island

“This equates to 96 spaces being used by commuters during the day only leaving 44 spaces available for shoppers.”

To mitigate for the loss of these spaces, City Hall is set to reorientate spaces on Union Quay, adding an extra 30 spaces, and to introduce a weekly ticket for users of the Black Ash park and ride. It is also set to encourage greater take up of the Tax Saver scheme and seek out potential park-and-walk locations in the docklands.

Concerns were also raised by members of the Save Cork City campaign, as well as several members of Cork City Council, that the Morrison’s Island scheme represents the start of the so-called ‘walls project’ of flood defences proposed by the OPW under the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme (LLFRS).

Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island
Flood Defence Public Realm upgrade for Morrison's Island

David Joyce, who is overseeing the project at City Hall, moved to calm these fears, clarifying that the Morrison’s Island works are primarily public realm projects with flood defence elements included and that it does not have any impact on the LLFRS. Cork City Council will complete the Morrison’s Island works, with the OPW leading the LLFRS.

Mr Joyce added: “We will not presuppose or seek to influence the Lower Lee Flood Relief Scheme. It will fall or succeed on its own merits.” He noted that the Morrison’s Island works will resolve 80% of the flood risk in the city centre.

Failing to tackle the long-standing flood issue would be ‘reckless’, according to Sinn Fein’s Chris O’Leary.

“We can’t just sit here and do nothing,” he said. To do nothing, how could we speak to the residents and business owners in 12 months time if we had done nothing? It would be reckless.”

Former Lord Mayor Des Cahill described the quayside as ‘in a shocking condition’ at present. “The buildings are derelict and it adds nothing,” he said. “We have to invest, as a city, in that area.”

Solidarity councillor Fiona Ryan was among those to vote against the proposals. She urged her fellow councillors to reject the plans until an independent review of the process could take place.

The proposals were approved by 22 votes to 6.

More in this section

Sponsored Content