CORK'S South Parish is fighting back against decay and depopulation.
Representatives of the business community, residents, councillors, and urban specialists have unveiled plans that they hope will be transformative and will build on recent shoots of recovery in areas including Barrack St and Douglas Street.
Plans to introduce extensive greening programmes, improve the public realm, encourage more festivals, and integrate a new architectural college into the area were unveiled at Nano Nagle Place, which itself has been transformed from dereliction to a new state-of-the-art facility.
Independent councillor, Mick Finn, a resident of the area, paid tribute to the people behind the impetus and said that various interest groups and residents need to get involved to make this ‘genesis project’ work.
“This is the start of a transformative process that will see the South Parish — where Cork began — regain its prominence in the city as a place to live, work, and visit,” he said.
“It could be akin to leafy French suburb, with architecture students in the area’s latest educational establishment to open next September — on the famous site of Nano Nagle’s first community — designing its future, while living and studying in the area. A new garden cafe will add to the already fine network of cafes, shops, and pubs on Douglas Street, which has massive potential to be one of Cork’s finest quarters.”
Current footpath repairs in the area are also welcome, he said.
“City council will also have to step up to the plate and design a proper roads-and-environment plan to complement what’s being done and link this to the city as a must-visit destination.
“The presence of Elizabeth Fort, St Finbarre’s Cathedral, and Christchurch, nearby, highlights the importance of delivering the South Parish Plan to maximise potential.”
New resident in the area, Katharina Becker, unveiled the greening project, which will enhance the parish’s “unique character”.
She said that the benefits of living in such an urban setting far outweigh the negatives, and that challenges such as air pollution, lack of green spaces, and lack of social interaction could be overcome by realising these plans.
Greening co-ordinator, Finola McCarthy, said that residents and businesses would sponsor bespoke window boxes and planters, which are scheduled to be in place between November and March.
Organisers emphasise that this will be an inclusive project, with Ballyphehane Men’s Shed involved in the production of boxes; the Lantern Project, at Nano Nagle Place, holding learning modules; and local colleges — the Crawford College of Art and St John’s College — involved in various design processes.
The project is supported by Cork Healthy Cities, Food Policy Council, Cork City Council, and the HSE.
To add to the growing sense of a community linking in with the council to regenerate their areas, a special Christmas event, on December 10, will follow the inaugural Douglas Street Festival and will feature celebrations at the opening of the Red Abbey Crib and the festive ‘lighting of trees’ at the Langford Row end.