Cork City Council is being asked to recognise the potential of “meanwhile use” of vacant properties as a source of employment and regeneration.
The term “meanwhile use” refers to the short-term use of temporarily empty buildings, and one city councillor believes Cork should become a trailblazer in making better use of its vacant buildings and brownfield sites.
Sinn Fein city councillor Eolan Ryng told The Echo that he believes the success of the Marina Market has highlighted a desire within Cork city to foster vibrant, innovative meanwhile use projects.
He said that the city will be transformed by the National Development Plan, Project 2040, but much of that development would take long periods of time to realise, and meanwhile use, which had enjoyed success in London and Paris, made sense in the short to medium term.
“I think looking at meanwhile use is a very common-sense approach to take, at a time when we have a lot of dereliction and vacant brownfield sites in the city,” Cllr Ryng said.
“I think it is something that could inject a lot of life into the city and it would cover in the short to medium term what the longer term development plans are trying to do, and I think everyone would be a winner.”
At last month’s meeting of Cork City Council, Mr Ryng introduced a motion proposing that the council recognise the potential of meanwhile use; and that it commission a report identifying sites with potential for meanwhile use.
The motion also proposed that the city council write to the Oireachtas Housing Committee identifying any policy or legislative gaps relating to meanwhile use and asking that the committee prepare a report on this; and that the council write to the Housing Minister and ask that Cork be made a pilot for meanwhile use. It also proposed that Cork City Council engage with the Meanwhile Foundation, a Birmingham-based charity which was set up in 2012 and which promotes meanwhile use of vacant properties in England and Wales.
It was agreed at last month’s meeting of Cork City Council that, given the extreme weather conditions prevailing at the time, Mr Ryng’s motion would not be discussed at the time but would instead be referred to the council’s Strategic and Economic Planning Special Policy Committee (SPC) for discussion.
“Lord Mayor Deirdre Forde suggested that it would be appropriate to discuss meanwhile use at that SPC, and that makes sense because they are the committee which sets policy in that area,” Cllr Ryng said.
He said he was hopeful that his fellow councillors would embrace meanwhile use as a way of regenerating the city’s vacant buildings and brownfield sites. “I think that by looking at meanwhile use in Cork city, we in Cork City Council have a real opportunity to help bring life back into parts of the city which are falling prey to dereliction, and going to rack and ruin,” Mr Ryng said.