Docklands are not Cork's only housing solution

Docklands are not Cork's only housing solution
An aerial view east over Cork's sprawling 160-hectare City Docks region.

CORK needs to move on from the docklands development to solve issues with housing supply in the city, according to a leading planning consultant.

Cork City Council needs to be 'more realistic' about its planning if it is to solve the housing crisis, according to Aiden O'Neill, partner at Coakley O'Neill.

Mr O'Neill said that the docklands should represent just one element of an overall solution to the shortage of available housing in Cork city and called on the local authority to work on alternative sites too.

Ambitious plans currently envision a huge 9,500 homes on the 220-hectare docklands area alongside huge amounts of office and retail development.

A local area plan is currently being developed and is expected to be published early next year, though it is understood that there are concerns about flood risk in the area, too.

"Cork city is too reliant on the docklands as the solution," Mr O'Neill said.

"It hasn't happened there for a long time. I understand that there are some plans in the works for the likes of Monahan Road and other areas which will begin the process in the area, but Cork City Council needs to be more realistic about solutions."

The town planning expert said that the city should look at more cost-effective solutions, including areas like Tivoli.

"Realistically, developed areas like this have huge potential at less cost and would probably be realised in a quicker timeframe," he added.

Concerns have been raised at national level that local authorities are not using development land to its full potential. Dublin-based housing policy analyst and architect, Mel Reynolds, this week estimated that local authorities across the country own more than 1,200 hectares of land with the potential for almost 38,000 homes.

In Cork city alone, there is approximately 45 hectares of council-owned land zoned for residential use, according to the Rebuilding Ireland land map.

This could potentially host some 1,500 homes if developed, though Mr O'Neill said that it is not necessarily that simple.

"Not all land would be as capable of hosting development as others," he said.

"But it is a sizeable amount of land. It comes down to funding - it's that simple."

The planning consultant said that the housing issues facing both public and private sector won't be solved under the current mechanisms. He said that the cost of land remains prohibative to some developers, while the part 5 clause in development which dictates that up to 10% of a development has to be for social or affordable housing, won't solve issues in the social housing sector.

"The private sector cannot be relied on to solve the problem on its own," he said.

"It has to be social housing and it has to be funded nationally."

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