Cork City development plan reopens to consultation following call from minister to change some aspects

At the beginning of August, the minister issued a draft direction to the council directing it to change its plan, as it “fails to set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”, following criticism from the Office of the Planning Regulator.
Cork City development plan reopens to consultation following call from minister to change some aspects

‘Lord Mayor of Cork, Cllr. Deirdre Forde with Chief Executive of Cork City Council Ann Doherty and Fearghal Reidy, Director Of Services Strategic and Economic Development launch the Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028 ‘Our City Our Future’ at Bells Field in Cork’. Photo Darragh Kane

Public consultation is due to open this week regarding Cork City’s Development Plan for 2022-2028, and a move by the minister for Local Government and Planning to have it amended.

Despite that, the Our City, Our Future: Cork City Development Plan 2022-2028’, has been launched by lord mayor Deirdre Forde. According to Cork City Council the plan, which came into effect this month, provides an over- arching framework to help shape the transformation of the city over the next six years by supporting a predicted population increase of 50,000 and the creation of 30,000 jobs.

However, at the beginning of August, the minister issued a draft direction to the council directing it to change its plan, as it “fails to set out an overall strategy for the proper planning and sustainable development of the area”, following criticism from the Office of the Planning Regulator. In his draft direction to the council, the minister has asked it to make several changes to the city development plan.

Amendments

One proposed amendment would require the council to prepare a joint retail strategy with Cork County Council, in accordance with national retail planning guidelines. Another relates to zoning of an education site near Centre Park Road. The remaining recommended changes relate to land zoning for residential housing.

The minister wants to see a number of material amendments made by the council to the development plan, which saw various areas around Cork rezoned for new residential neighbourhoods’, removed or reverted to their original zoning category.

Sites of contention include Ringwood, Kilcully, two areas in Upper Glanmire, Sallybrook, Knocknahorgan, and Carrigaranna Road.

The planning watchdog previously said the rezoning of these lands “does not support compact growth and sequential development, and objectives to promote sustainable settlement and transport strategies” in Cork City.

It highlighted issues with rezoning land for housing that is on the periphery or outskirts of existing settlements such as being remote from public transport, infrastructure or a definable urban centre, or undermining redevelopment of existing sites closer to the city centre.

Councillor comments

Green city councillor Oliver Moran said that the zoning amendments voted through by councillors are “inconsistent in the overall objective of wanting to create a livable and well-planned city”, and that the sensible thing for councillors to do now is to “accept the advice of city officials and the planning regulator”.

“There’s no lack of land zoned for housing. In fact, the real problem we face is land that already has planning permission for housing but is not being developed on — and property that could be used for housing lying empty in the city centre,” he said.

However, other councillors say the rezoned land is much needed to cater to expanding populations in Cork.

Fine Gael councillor Des Cahill, said that he will be making submissions for each of the eight material amendments, arguing that they should be retained in the city’s development plan.

Mr Cahill estimates that the lands in question zoned for residential housing could equate to 1,000 to-1,500 homes if retained. “These are the types of developments we really should be pushing, because I believe that we have to provide areas for housing. If you limit the amount of areas [zoned for housing] you increase the price, so why not have additional areas?” he said.

Fianna Fáil councillor in the South Central Ward, Seán Martin, said that “by and large” the city development plan is a good one, with three years of consultation and upwards of 80 meetings and workshops with local area representatives having gone into it.

However, he recognised that the fact half of the minister’s contentions about residential zoning relate to areas around Glanmire “says something in itself”.

“Any of us that know Glanmire know that there has been an infrastructural deficit in the Silversprings area for 20 years. I would argue from there back to Glanmire needs serious infrastructural development in relation to roads and water,” he said.

Public consultation

A two-week public consultation on the draft direction from the minister will run for two weeks until September 2.

Before the end of September, the chief executive will prepare a report compiling all submissions made by the public and councillors, and make their case as to the best manner in which to give effect to the draft direction.

Following this, the minister will make a decision about the final binding direction to Cork City Council regarding its development plan.

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