Ambitious new plan for growth in County Cork; consultation process underway

The Draft Cork County Development Plan for 2022 to 2028 has been published by Cork County Council. Mary Corcoran digs deeper into the details on how it will affect and change the Rebel County and its people in the years ahead
Ambitious new plan for growth in County Cork; consultation process underway

CORK County Council has published its Draft Cork County Development Plan, 2021, and is encouraging people to have their say on the document which sets out the vision for the future of the county from 2022 to 2028. Picture Denis Minihane.

CORK County Council has published its Draft Cork County Development Plan, 2021, and is encouraging people to have their say on the document which sets out the vision for the future of the county from 2022 to 2028.

The plan was developed by the local authority following a period of consultation which included, but was not limited to, public consultation events, meetings with stakeholders and service providers, written submissions, briefing sessions for elected members, and a pre-draft public consultation.

The draft plan has been described as a “critical” one for guiding how Cork will develop and, across more than 4,000 pages of the document, ambitious plans for growth for the county are outlined with plans for population growth of 61,000 and the delivery of almost 30,000 new housing units over the six-year period.

It also sets out to deliver employment-led growth by delivering 36,500 jobs in rural and urban areas; and has identified over 2000ha of employment lands.

What is the plan?

The new draft County Development Plan sets out targets and objectives for the future of Cork in seven different volumes, with separate reports looking at how North Cork, South Cork and West Cork should be developed in the period from 2022 to 2028.

Carrigaline-based Fianna Fáil representative, Cllr Seamus McGrath, explained that the plan is somewhat different to previous County Development Plans.

“It comes around every six years, but this year we are combining the local area plans with the county development plan. Going forward it will be under the one document,” he explained.

Gillian Coughlan, a Fianna Fáil councillor for the Bandon-Kinsale MD (Municipal District), described the plan as “a really important facet” of the cycle of local government.

“It is a chance for us to stand back, look at our communities, look at our towns and villages, and plan ahead,” she said.

She noted that that plan is “somewhat circumscribed” by larger plans such as the Southern Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy and the National Planning Framework, but said this “global” view is a positive thing.

What’s included?

Separate volumes deal with the main policy material as well as heritage and amenity, environmental reports and maps.

The South Cork volume sets out plans for development in the Carrigaline MD, Cobh MD, East Cork MD, and Macroom MD over the six-year period.

The West Cork volume sets out the plans for development in the Bandon Kinsale MD and West Cork MD from 2022 to 2028.

The North Cork volume looks at plans for the Fermoy MD and Kanturk Mallow MD over the six-year period.

Population and housing targets

It is estimated that the population of Cork county in 2019 was around 332,015 with further growth expected in the period up to 2022.

The plan anticipates population growth of around 61,000 people up to 2028 with significant new housing units needed to provide for this increase.

The draft plan says these housing units will be delivered across the whole of county Cork, at locations in County Metropolitan Cork, what is described as the Ring and county towns, key villages, and villages and rural areas.

It is intended to deliver 3,526 of those units on brownfield/infill/existing built footprint sites with 18,487 units on zoned lands within main towns and key villages over 1,500 population.

A balance of 7,339 units will be accommodated in the key villages, smaller villages, and rural areas, with 2,094 in the key villages (with less than 1,500 population), 1,340 in the villages and 3,905 in the rural areas outside development boundaries.

The County Metropolitan Cork Strategic Planning Area has a population target of 125,839 by 2028 with different targets for each of the towns, villages and areas with the overall area.

The target population for Carrigtwohill, for example, for 2028 is 13,486. The town had a population of 5,080 in the 2016 Census.

The population target for Cobh is 17,452 which will require delivery of 1,730 new households. 

The target for Midleton is 21,108 (3,302 new households needed) and for Carrigaline it is 20,501 which will require the delivery of 2,344 new households.

A population target of 12,600 is set-out for the key villages with over 1,500 population which incorporates Crosshaven and bays, Cloyne, Kilumney/Ovens, Whitegate/Aghada, and Glounthaune.

Separately, a population target of 4,000 (to 2031) is set for Monard which will require the delivery of 1,342 new households (to 2031).

The Greater Cork Ring Strategic Planning Area meanwhile has a population target of 141,584.

A target population of 56,687 is set out for the main towns in the Greater Cork Ring Strategic Planning Area, which encompasses Bandon, Kinsale, Fermoy, Macroom, Mallow and Youghal with 1,371 new households needed in Mallow 1,012 in Bandon, and 822 units needed in both Fermoy and Kinsale.

A population target of 6,008 is set out for the key villages with populations over 1,500 in this area, namely Castlemartytr, Rathcormac, and Watergrasshill, while the population target for the key villages is 10,490.

The North Cork Strategic Planning Area has a population target of 58,733 while the West Cork Strategic Planning Area has a population target of 66,772.

Jobs targets

A 36,548 target for growth in jobs is put forward in the county from 2020 to 2028 with 18,772 of these jobs in the metropolitan area, 9,968 in the Greater Cork Ring area, 4,279 in the North Cork area, and 3,529 in the West Cork area.

The Plan supports a concentration of economic and employment development primarily within the main towns to bring balance across the county and improve the level of employment choice.

It says that Metropolitan Cork will continue to be the biggest jobs market in the county and development plan polices will continue to support the growth of employment in the metropolitan area so it can fulfil its role as an international location of scale, a complement to Dublin, and the primary driver of growth in the southern region.

Within the County Metropolitan Area, Carrigtwohill, Little Island, Ringaskiddy, and Whitegate are identified as strategic employment locations suitable for large-scale employment development and the plan also commits to protecting them from inappropriate development that may undermine their suitability as Strategic Employment Locations or give rise to potential conflicts between different land uses.

These four areas have retained their roles as locations for FDI companies (Foreign Direct Investment ) that required large stand-alone premises.

Marino Point is identified as a Specialist Employment Centre and the plan notes it is well placed to play a key strategic enabler role for the Regional Spatial and Economic Strategy in providing for the relocation of existing industrial uses from docklands and other strategic urban sites within the Cork Metropolitan Area in order to facilitate regeneration and redevelopment of such sites to help deliver compact growth and placemaking.

Placemaking and public realm

There is a significant focus in the plan on “placemaking” and ensuring towns and villages are places “where people choose to live, work and visit by making our towns and villages more attractive, vibrant and liveable places.”

Throughout the documents, objectives are set out for developments to enhance local areas such as plans for a new town park in Carrigaline including provision of playing pitches, plans to complete the development of the Midleton to Youghal Greenway, and developing riverside walks in Bandon.

Cllr John Paul O’Shea, a Fine Gael representative for the Kanturk-Mallow MD, said that these enhancements have an important purpose.

“In the area where I am, there’s a huge amount of services and enhancements proposed over the six-year period. The number of housing developments is the first issue, but we also have to make sure that that [the plan addresses] the quality of life issue, that if people move to the likes of Charleville or Newmarket or Kanturk that they can enjoy all quality of life as well as being in the area,” he said.

An ambitious plan

The plan has been described as “ambitious” and this is something which councillors say is certainly the case.

“It’s important for local authorities to be ambitious because we have to be ambitious to encourage development and the advancement of our area. Any plan that isn’t ambitious, to me is a plan that’s not worth reading,” said Cllr O’Shea. “It’s important that we are ambitious, that we strive towards meeting those targets. We think we’ve come up with a good balance in terms of the entire county.”

Cllr McGrath said that while the plan is ambitious, he does believe it is achievable once “adequate investment” is forthcoming.

“Funding has to be there to match the ambition,” he said.

Cllr Coughlan said the plan is “a people’s plan”.

“It is about getting our towns and our villages and our farmland, and protecting that, protecting our heritage, protecting our environment.

“If it’s not written down in a policy document like the county development plan, it will never happen. Those ambitions are set out in the plan.”

Consultation on the draft plan open

Submissions on the Draft Cork County Development Plan are now being accepted and people across county Cork are being encouraged to have their say on the plans.

“The Draft Plan has been prepared following an intensive process that included 46 formal meetings between the elected members of Council and the Executive, in addition to a public consultation process seeking views on strategic matters at the Pre-Draft stage. This publication is an opportunity for individuals and groups across the county to consider the contents of the Draft Plan and I would strongly encourage people to get involved and have their say in the future development of County Cork,” said Mayor of the County of Cork, Cllr Mary Linehan Foley.

Cllr O’ Shea said there was a huge volume of work in setting out a plan for the county for the next six years.

“[There is a] huge amount of information there and I would encourage people that are living in the different and respective towns to look up their own village, to look up their own town, and to see what is planned for that and to make their own submission for that in accordance with their own views,” he said.

Where can I find out more on the plan?

  • Full details of the Draft Plan and how to “Have Your Say” are available at
    Submissions/observations may be made on the Draft Plan until midnight on Thursday, July 1, either online or in writing to the Senior Planner, Planning Policy Unit, Cork County Council, County Hall, Carrigrohane Road, T12 R2 NC.

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