'Ambitious capital investment' required for Cork to remain globally competitive, says Chamber

'Ambitious capital investment' required for Cork to remain globally competitive, says Chamber

Cork Chamber Chief Executive Conor Healy and Chamber President Paula Cogan. In a recent submission to the National Development Plan (NDP) review, Cork Chamber said a "most ambitious" approach should be taken to capital investment spending for the region. Picture: Darragh Kane

Significant Government investment that is "focused and targeted" is required if Cork is to remain globally competitive and fulfil its role nationally as set out in the National Planning Framework (NPF), Cork Chamber has stated.

In a recent submission to the National Development Plan (NDP) review, Cork Chamber said a "most ambitious" approach should be taken to capital investment spending for the region.

The Chamber identified priority areas for capital investment focussed on quality of life and economic resilience including the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS), regional and international connectivity, housing, health, culture, education and innovation, renewable energy, water and climate mitigation to secure the region’s global competitive standing.

"If Cork is to fulfil its role as an economic growth centre for Ireland, Government must align capital investment with the National Planning Framework (NPF) and the goals set out in Ireland 2040," Paula Cogan, the Chamber's President, said.

"There is no shortage of vision or ambition for Cork and it is the role of Government to now ensure that the plans are met with appropriate financial structures. 

"From CMATS to the development of new hospital infrastructure, the demands of a region on a clear growth trajectory must be met with vigour."

Ms Cogan said increased investment in major capital projects in Cork is particularly necessary in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.

"In the wake of the current pandemic and the infrastructural deficit created by the severe austerity measures triggered by the 2008 economic crash, it is essential that investment in capital projects continues to be increased to meet capacity constraints. 

"There is also significant economic stimulus associated with capital expenditure, providing the most proactive and legacy inducing form of government support available," she said.

The review of the National Development Plan opened for submissions in November.

The public had until February 19 to have their say. 

"Failure to invest appropriately will lead to serious capacity constraints that will damage economic resilience and recovery. 

"Priority given to capital expenditure would also support the NPF objective of delivering infrastructure-led development. 

"This approach would provide Ireland with an opportunity to apply international best practice to the development of our cities and towns as attractive places to live," Conor Healy, CEO of Cork Chamber, said. 

The Chamber submission says that, in alignment with the NPF, the NDP provides spatial and investment policy certainty to the region, creating a predictable environment in which commercial investment decisions can be made. 

However, it adds that delays in the delivery of significant projects damage business confidence.

"Government must now acknowledge impediments to the vision of Ireland 2040, such as apartment viability and affordability, suitable water infrastructure, URDF funding, planning and the speed of appeals mechanisms," Mr Healy continued.

"At the same time it must progress solutions, as delivery on the ground is the benchmark that matters. 

"Without this, the credibility of the plan will be undermined over time."

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