CORK is set to be transformed, with over €405m announced for urban regeneration.
The funding will see major investment in the City Docklands and Grand Parade Quarter projects, as well as investment in towns including Mallow, Carrigaline, Passage West, and Ringaskiddy.
The Government funding has been allocated under the second round of the Urban Regeneration and Development Fund (URDF), which aims to deliver more compact and sustainable development, as envisaged under Project Ireland 2040.
The funding represents the biggest investment by the public sector in Cork city in the history of the State.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin said the investment is about making Cork city and county “even better places in which to work, live, visit, and invest”.
“The Cork City Docklands Project investment of €353m will transform the recreational, residential, and commercial areas, and prime the docklands for significant follow-up private-sector development,” he said.
The 146-hectare docklands region, which will be developed over a 20-year period, will include homes, schools, medical and social services, sports and recreation facilities, office space, pubs, bars, restaurants, hotels, retail, and new bridges.
Mr Martin said the allocation also provides funding for “the new Marina Park; it provides funding for cycleways, walkways, and the Eastern Gateway Bridge, which will further improve connectivity”.
The regeneration of the Grand Parade Quarter will create “a whole new dynamic”, he said. “The Grand Parade is going to be lovely. There will be a new city library. There will be a complete redesign and up- grading of Bishop Lucey Park, which will create a whole new plaza along the Grand Parade. There will be a new boardwalk as well.”
Mr Martin said the funding underpins the Government’s strategy of creating strong regional cities outside Dublin.
Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Joe Kavanagh said: “The Cork City Docklands regeneration will provide jobs and homes to tens of thousands of people and make Cork a world-class city to live and work in, supporting the Government’s ambition to develop the city as a true counterbalance to Dublin.
More than €405m was announced yesterday for the regeneration of Cork’s docklands, Grand Parade, Mallow town centre, and Passage-Ringaskiddy-Carrigaline harbour areas Picture: Larry Cummins
“It is heartening to see further regeneration in the very heart of the medieval city, alongside the old city walls at the Grand Parade Quarter. Not only will we be progressing with plans to develop a library that can facilitate up to 1m visits but we will also experience the opening-up of Bishop Lucey Park to the wider city as part of its redesign,” he said.
Paula Cogan, president of Cork Chamber, commended the Government, Cork City Council, and Cork County Council on the “significant milestone”.
“By building homes and businesses, cultural assets, and better public spaces within our existing urban footprint, in parallel with transport options such as walking, cycling, bus, and rail, Cork will put an exemplary model of community, sustainability, and resilience in place,” she said.
However, the Sinn Féin team in Cork North Central, Thomas Gould TD, councillors Mick Nugent and Kenneth Collins and Local Area Rep Mandy O’Leary-Hegarty, criticised the lack of funding for northside projects.
“I am sick and tired of the neglect of the northside,” Mr Gould said.
“Here we are again, this time with the largest funding investment Cork has ever seen, and not a single cent to be spent on the northside.
“A one-sided, unequal, and unsustainable city appears to be the vision of Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael. That is not what we in Sinn Féin want for our city. We need to give the northside the chance to reach its potential,” he said.
However, Mr Martin told The Echo that the investment in the docklands, in particular, will benefit those from all areas of Cork and beyond.
“The whole idea is people will work in the docklands from all parts of the city, from all parts of the county and beyond,” he said.
“The economic regeneration of the city, and this is an investment in the city, will benefit northside and southside.
“Obviously, Covid has created challenges,” he said. “It’s created a lot of economic challenges for hospitality, for tourism, for retail — we acknowledge that.
“There will be a national economic recovery plan announced and formulated by Government as we emerge from Covid and that will focus in on those sectors. But what you’re witnessing here is very significant investment in public infrastructure that will in time create the platform and the foundation for an economic regeneration of those sectors and for the city in general.”