20,000 new homes planned for Cork as part of 'transformative' plan for city

20,000 new homes planned for Cork as part of 'transformative' plan for city

Pictured at Fitzgerald Park, Cork, for the launch of the draft Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028, were (back L-R) Cork City Council CE, Ann Doherty; Director of Strategic Economic Development, Fearghal Reidy; Senior Planner, Kevin O’Connor and Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr Colm Kelleher and (front L-R) young rappers and hip hop enthusiasts from the Kabin Studio in Hollyhill, Cork City and the Migrant Centre at Nano Nagle Place, Douglas Street, Sophie Mc Carthy, Cara Cullen, Jamie Forde aka MC The King, and Ugonna Duru.

A NEW development plan for Cork City, which paves the way to make it a city of international scale that can act as a counterbalance to Dublin, will see €1.8bn invested by central Government.

The draft Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028 was published yesterday and sets out to create more employment and deliver more housing, attract investment, and make the city a more sustainable and attractive place to live.

Under the plan, 20,000 homes are to be built in Cork City and its suburbs and 31,000 jobs are to be created over the coming years.

Some €3.5bn has been designated to the delivery of a modern transport infrastructure under the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy (CMATS) over a 20-year period.

Consultation on light rail system 

Lord Mayor of Cork Colm Kelleher, a Fianna Fáil councillor, said that consultation has commenced on a light rail system proposed to run from Ballincollig to Mahon.

Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty said a study is underway in relation to choosing a specific route for the light rail system which is hoped to be selected by the end of this year.

Ms Doherty said other means of transport will be strengthened “on that corridor first” which will create development and ensure a critical mass of people, leading to the creation of a sustainable route.

The development plan sets out to create a 15-minute city model, whereby those living in the city centre and its suburbs can easily access services within 15 minutes of home.

“To be a 15-minute city, we need a state-of-the-art, world class transport infrastructure to achieve that and we will achieve that. The money is promised by central government to Cork. It’s a massive investment not only in Cork as a city but as the regional capital of Munster as a whole and it’s very exciting,” councillor Kelleher said.

First of three new plans 

However, the Lord Mayor and chief executive urged the people of Cork City to get involved in the public consultation process of the draft plan over the next eight weeks and have their say in an important plan “which will shape our city for generations to come”.

“This is the first of three critically important city developments plans for Cork. It is the first of three such plans that will provide a pathway to achieving a 50% increase in population by 2040 so that Cork grows as a city of international scale”.

“This plan aims to ensure that as our population increases substantially, we become an even better place to live. It is centred around supporting housing, economic development, public realm renewal, transport, more amenity spaces and community services in existing built-up areas, using the internationally- recognised 15-minute city model,” he said.

The Lord Mayor said the plan will provide a framework to “achieve the ambitions for Cork to be a city of international scale to act as a counterbalance to Dublin by 2040.

“By then, Cork is targeted to grow from its current population of 210,000 people to over 335,000 people.

“To achieve this, Cork must be an attractive, sustainable city with an excellent quality of life for all its residents,” councillor Kelleher said. 

He said that the plan is a culmination of considerable work by all elected members of Cork City Council and CEO Ann Doherty.

“This is a transformative and important plan for our city and I would like to encourage as many people across all community groups and representatives across all organisations as possible to make a submission to our city’s development plan before the closing date which is October 4, 2021,” he said.

Ms Doherty said the plan is significant in many ways and is the first local policy-based expression of the ambition for Cork contained in Project Ireland 2040 and the National Planning Framework.

“The plan follows widespread listening and engagement with stakeholders in the first round of public consultation. The plan’s rationale is further informed by a suite of evidence-based studies on the various opportunities and challenges facing the city,” she said.

Ms Doherty said: “This draft plan is being published at a time of unprecedented opportunity. Cork City has up to €1.8bn in ringfenced central government funding and up to €3.5bn earmarked for the city over 20 years as part of the Cork Metropolitan Area Transport Strategy. There is a visible confidence in our city as evidenced by planned landmark projects such as the €46m Grand Parade Quarter, which is going through public consultation at present, and the Cork City Docklands, a scheme of international significance that, as Ireland’s largest regeneration project has already received €355m from the Government’s Urban Regeneration and Development Fund.”

Resilience considered in drafting plan

When asked if the plan will prepare the city for future pandemics, director of strategic and economic development Fearghal Reidy said the resilience of the city in terms of employment, culture and social opportunity is important and is “very high in the development plan”.

He said we need to innovate for the economy to make sure that the planning can withstand either pandemics or climate action and that community was one of the most important aspects of being a city of resilience.

Mr Reidy said the city’s communities, businesses and community response teams’ efforts during the pandemic bode well for the city and proves that we come together as a city to adapt and change.

Ms Doherty said the city also needs to be adaptable, which she said is what Covid-19 has proven. “That’s why having cultural innovation in our city is really important. We have two great universities and good colleagues in ETB and Lifelong Learning. All of that is really powerful when it comes to creating conditions for adaptability as well. That served us well in this pandemic which maybe other cities mightn’t have had,” she said.

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