IMPROVING the attractiveness of the city to families by adding child-friendly spaces to the city centre; undertaking a river-focused feasibility study on the rollout of boat tours, kayaking activity, and the feasibility of water taxis and an increased utilisation of existing building stock are just some of the actions outlined in a new plan aimed at ensuring Cork is a “magnet city”.
The detail was contained in the draft new Cork City Centre Revitalisation Action Plan, discussed by Cork city councillors at this week’s full council meeting.
The independent report was prepared by KPMG at the request of Cork City Council.
In drafting the report, KPMG assigned experts in economics, town planning and policy analysts to assist in the plan which the council’s director of strategic and economic development, Fearghal Reidy said “charts a course for land use and economic development in Cork city centre”.
Mr Reidy said the plan builds on the first City Centre Strategy which was published in 2014 and also on the work done under the ‘Reimaging Cork’ initiative.
The plan identifies a number of potential actions centred around nine so-called enablers.
Those enablers are: character development and community; age-friendly and accessible; culture and the night-time economy; efficient use of building stock; natural and heritage assets; greening and urban resilience; hard infrastructure; mobility and connectivity and supporting economic sector growth.
Within each of the enablers, the report outlines steps to be undertaken for Cork to become “a magnet city”.
A magnet city, the report states, is “a city with a strong magnetic pull draws in new residents, visitors and business investment”.
One of the recommended actions is that the 15-minute city concept should be embedded “into all actions related to the city centre”.
Another is that the council should add playgrounds and other child-friendly spaces to the city centre to “improve the attractiveness of the city to families”.
An audit of accessibility for all groups in the city centre should be done at regular intervals, the report also recommends.
On the topic of culture, it has been advised to explore the potential to establish a creative hub, together with the creative community, where artists and craft-makers can demonstrate and sell their work.
Consideration should also be given to develop a pilot initiative “to deliver an authentic local food experience, working with local producers, restaurants and food service providers”.
The report also advises that the council would work with industry “to identify opportunities to develop separate spaces for under 18s”, including more cinemas and art spaces, afternoon gigs, dance offs and skating areas.
In relation to existing building stock within the city centre, the council has been advised to explore “the creation/establishment of a DAC (Designated Activity Company) to develop key midsized sites in the city centre and prepare a comprehensive derelict sites strategy including interventions on a spatial level”.
The council has also been recommended to “undertake an audit of challenges filling upper floor vacancy”.
Another action outlined is that a river-focused feasibility study on the rollout of boat tours, kayaking activity, and the feasibility of water taxis should be undertaken and that the council should explore “further pedestrianisation of city centre streets having regard to the very successful pedestrianisation of streets undertaken in the city centre recently”.
Also among the recommendations is to explore “the development of a dedicated market/arcade for pop-up and independent retail in the city centre”.
The draft plan was welcomed by a number of councillors at Monday’s meeting.
Fine Gael councillor Deirdre Forde described it as a “very good document” which covers “a lot of bases”.
However, Ms Forde said safety concerns can be a deterrent to people visiting the city centre and called for engagement with the Gardaí as to the feasibility of having an area for a drunk tank in the city centre.
Green Party councillor Dan Boyle described the draft plan as an “important document” which sets out how the council can build on what it has already achieved.
“Revitalisation isn’t something we’re planning towards, it’s something that is already taking place,” he said.