Cork County Board instructed to pay more than €300k toward lighting costs around Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Cork County Board instructed to pay more than €300k toward lighting costs around Páirc Uí Chaoimh

Cork County Board has been told by Cork City Council it must pay over €300,000 as part of the cost to improve lighting around, and in the roads up to the ground. Picture: Larry Cummins

CORK County GAA Board has been ordered to pay a special contribution of over €300,000 to Cork City Council in relation to improved lighting for the expansion of Páirc Uí Chaoimh.

The amount is over five times what the sports body had offered to contribute.

In 2014, Cork City Council granted conditional planning permission to Cork County GAA Board for the refurbishment and expansion of Páirc Uí Chaoimh and the provision of a new all-weather playing pitch on adjoining lands formerly used as a showgrounds.

One of the conditions attached to the council’s approval of the development stated, in the interests of traffic and pedestrian safety and to avoid traffic congestion, that the applicant/developer would “identify and provide for adequate lighting along key pedestrian routes to Páirc Uí Chaoimh” in particular along Monahan Rd, Centre Park Rd, Old Railway Line, and the Marina.

“The extent of the area to be considered for lighting upgrades and the specification shall be agreed in writing with Cork City Council.

“All associated costs shall be borne by the applicant/developer.

“The lighting shall be installed by the applicant/developer, prior to the first operation/opening of the development,” the condition stated.

The council’s decision to grant conditional planning permission was later appealed with An Bord Pleanála by two third parties and the applicant also appealed the condition regarding the special contribution.

An inspector with An Bord Pleanála said the new lighting was necessary as the longer use of hours with the expanded facilities at Páirc Uí Chaoimh, especially after dark, made an upgrading of lighting “an immediate necessity”.

The Old Railway Line and parts of the Marina are still unlit.

The board effectively dismissed the applicant’s appeal by including a condition in its order to grant permission which stated that the developer was obliged to pay the special contribution.

The condition stated that the amount of the contribution was to be agreed between the planning authority and the developer or, “in default of such agreement, the matter shall be referred to An Bord Pleanála for determination”.

Unable to agree amount

The point of detail case had been referred to An Bord Pleanála by Cork City Council in September last year for adjudication, telling the board that it had been unable to agree on an amount with the GAA.

The council claims that roughly half the costs of improvements to public lighting should be borne by the GAA.

In 2014, the council sought a contribution of €750,000.

In discussions between the parties over subsequent years, city council estimated the GAA’s contribution should be between €786,000 and €860,000, while the Cork County GAA Board continued to offer €60,000.

The GAA would not agree to these estimates on the basis that they were based on an extra 2km of roadway beyond that which had been agreed upon between the two parties, the GAA claimed in its correspondence with An Bord Pleanála.

In the Bord Pleanála inspector’s report, it was stated that Cork County GAA Board “does not consider that it was solely responsible for the failure to agree upon a figure”.

In 2020, the city council estimated that the cost of improvements to street lighting would total €1,111,026 and that it would be reasonable for the GAA to contribute approximately half this amount at €544,612.

An Bord Pleanála has ruled that the GAA must pay €307,823 towards the cost of the works.

The costs incurred by Cork City Council in carrying out repairs to street lighting over the period 2014-2020 are not included in this figure.

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