IMPROVED transport links between Cork city centre and UCC and CIT have been highlighted as a crucial issue in the development of a long-term strategy on student accommodation in Cork.
Better interaction with local communities was also highlighted as an essential component of future-strategy at a recent meeting at City Hall.
Representatives from UCC and CIT both recently gave a presentation to Cork City Council on the growing need for student accommodation in the city as student numbers look set to grow significantly in the coming years.
It came on the back of several months of campaigning by several members of Cork City Council, including councillors John Buttimer and Mick Finn, who raised concerns about the impact of student accommodation on communities in Bishopstown, Magazine Road, the Lough and other areas near the third level institutions.
A number of significant developments are currently in various stages of planning and appeal throughout the city centre, including large developments on the former Square Deal and Crow's Nest sites and overlooking the Lough, while construction has progressed rapidly on builds on the Western Road and on the former Beamish & Crawford site on South Main Street.
Representatives from the two institutions met with the Council's Strategic Planning, Economic Development and Enterprise Strategic Policy Committee, outlining the student accommodation issue.
According to the minutes of the meeting, UCC acknowledged the need for extra housing due to a projected increase in students.
"An acknowledgement of the need of for positive engagement with communities, the requirement for a more integrated transport system to access third level institutions together with the need for an increasingly collaborative and imaginative approach with fellow institutions" were also noted, according to the minutes.
CIT, meanwhile, noted the importance of 'increased transportation links' as a key issue.
A question and answer session took place on the night, with members of Cork City Council calling for increased communication with residents and an increased focused on the zoning objectives and densities of preferred sites.
They also sought better cooperation between UCC, CIT and other large institutions, such as nearby hospitals, when it came to planning, while they also sought details on specific locations for purpose-built student accommodation.
Fine Gael councillor John Buttimer welcomed the progress and said it will form part of an amendment to the city's development plan which could be in place by June.
"We are building momentum," he said.
"There is positive engagement on all sides and we just need to extend that out to community groups, as well as pinning down exact locations for future developments."