A High Court judge has told Cork City and County Councils to remember their tagline "We are Cork" and not be isolationist in relation to a Kildare Village style retail development for the county.
Ms Justice Niamh Hyland has granted an application to lift a court-imposed stay on a direction of the Local Government Minister that Cork County Council annul a change to its development plan allowing for the €100m outlet centre in the east of the county pending full proceedings later this month.
The judge said it is regrettable that litigation could not have been avoided.
“I am very struck by the tagline on the notepaper of both local authorities – “We are Cork”. That tagline reflects the reality – Cork is made up of both the city and county. It is all Cork. Indeed, the Cork Metropolitan area spans both. It is ultimately not in the interests of either local authority to take an isolationist approach,” she said.
"The question of a retail outlet undoubtedly raises difficult questions because of its impact on shopping in the city centre on the one hand, and the benefits that it may bring to the county and possibly the city on the other hand.
“There is now no stay on the direction. It is to be hoped that both local authorities will comply with both the letter and spirit of the direction while it remains in place, to achieve a solution that will be in the overall interests of Cork.”
Cork County Council had brought a High Court challenge to the minister's direction and a stay was placed on it pending the outcome of the proceedings. The minister then asked the court to lift the stay.
The council claims, among other things, its proposal takes account of the vitality/viability criteria for city and town centres in those guidelines.
It says the change should not have an adverse impact on other centres and can be of significant benefit to the life and vitality of the metropolitan economy.
It says the minister's direction to reverse the decision is without jurisdiction in circumstances where the development plan sets out an overall strategy for the functional area of the council. The decision is fundamentally flawed, irrational, unlawful and of no legal effect, it is claimed.
The minister denies the claims.
Ms Justice Hyland said a stay on the Minister's direction was very likely to prevent the outcome of a coordinated process between the county and city councils on such centres whereas lifting the stay may permit the outcome of that process to be reflected in the development plans of one or both local authorities.