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COUNTY DEVELOPMENT PLAN – PART I: What’s the vision for your town until 2028?

June 2nd, 2021 11:55 AM

By Kieran O'Mahony

The plan supports the development of Bandon town as a business hub, and says there’s a need for a northern relief road to take traffic away from North Main St and Bank Place. (Photo: Denis Boyle)

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Cork County Council has published its draft plan for the future of its towns and villages, which sets out its stall up to 2028. In the first of a two-part series, Kieran O’Mahony takes a closer look

THE draft County Development Plan has ambitious targets, including planning for a population growth of 61,000, as well the delivery of 29,300 housing units.

It also sets out to deliver employment-led growth, by delivering 36,500 jobs in rural and urban areas.

Consisting of seven volumes, the West Cork volume alone – which includes both Bandon Kinsale and West Cork Municipal Districts – is a 296-page document taking in both villages and towns, and outlines the vision for these areas when it comes to housing, employment and social and community development among others.

While it may seem like heavy reading, the graphics, maps and statistics make it very manageable and is worth a read for anyone who is interested in their own area, even if they won’t want to contribute.

Meanwhile, a public webinar for the plan took place  earlier this week, in order to encourage public participation in the public consultation process.

The webinar gave an overview of the plan and also gave guidance to the public on how to make submissions.

You can submit, up to and including, midnight on Thursday July 1st.

Full details of the draft plan and how to have your say are available at corkcoco.ie/en/cork-county-development-plan-2022-2028.

Bandon/ Kinsale

Municipal District

BANDON

Population and housing

Bandon has been allocated a population target of 9,790 in the plan and in order to accommodate this level of population growth – 2,833 – 1,050 housing units will be need for the period 2020 to 2028, with 828 housing units being delivered on greenfield residential-zoned land and the balance will be built in the built footprint. The Council will also focus on the better utilisation of the existing building stock.

Urban design

The future growth strategy for the town is largely focused on two distinct areas that are north west and north east of the town – on elevated, sloping lands.

Social and community facilities

The Department of Education & Skills highlighted the need for one new primary school and one new secondary school in the town and recommends these should be provided on a single site in order to share facilities. There is also no public swimming pool or leisure centre in the town and the Plan recognises the significant contribution the provision of such a facility would make.

Green infrastructure

Bandon is lacking a formal park to act as a community and recreation focus for the town’s population and it is considered that part of the demesne within the Castle Bernard estate could perform a new parkland function for the town if the opportunity arose. Policies to deliver extension to existing riverside walks will be retained.

Economy and employment

The town is the principal employment centre within the municipal district and the plan supports the continuing role of the town as a business hub for a large rural area and encourages the development of hot desks facilities, computer hubs, financial services and office development within the centre on suitable zoned land. It notes that the eastern approach to the town has enormous potential as a mixed used ‘opportunity site’.

The area around the mart site, west of the Relief Road is currently under-utilised and would benefit from an enhanced urban structure to create a positive first impression as the ‘gateway’ to the town from Cork city.

Tourism

The heritage led public realm investment and flooding relief works in the town can act as a catalyst to launching Bandon as an emerging tourism destination. The plan also encourages the expansion of the tourism accommodation offer in Bandon.

Town centre and retail

Cork County Council has adopted a detailed T-Prep (Transportation Public Realm Enhancement Plan) to develop a more pedestrian friendly town centre. This will include public realm measures and new market spaces.

There is a need for a northern relief road to divert traffic away from pinch points at North Main Street and Bank Place.

As part of Project ACT, Bridge Lane has been subject to pedestrian priority measure to help promote a Covid-safe environment, which is mutually beneficial to both towns people and visitors.

KINSALE

Population and housing

Kinsale has a population target of 7,342 (currently: 5,286    Census 2016) and in order to achieve this an additional 629 housing units will be required. The development strategy for Kinsale is to focus on new housing developments and population growth close to the existing urban footprint of the town to maximise opportunities for walks and cycling. There is therefore a stronger focus on the better utilisation of the existing building stock, prioritisation of brownfield and under-utilised land and identification of regeneration and infill opportunities.

Urban design

Specific urban design guidance is provided on a street-by-street basis for the town to ensure new developments achieve a high standard of design and contribute positively to the historic environment. However, there is evidence that the quality and design of shopfronts within the historic town centre have deteriorated. The town centre strategy focuses on protecting the historic fabric of the town and identifying any regeneration land which can be added to the building stock and the capacity of the town to facilitate additional mixed-use development.

Social and community development

The Department of Education and Skills previously identified the need for two new primary schools and one secondary school in the town to cater for a growing population. The plan also says there are opportunities to improve walking and cycling and improve links between schools and residential areas. The plan supports measures to provide an additional playground.

Green infrastructure

The plan includes a number of sites zoned as green infrastructure which provide for open spaces in the town. There is a proposal for a new town park which needs to be the subject of detailed design and there may be more than one location where this can be delivered.

Economy and employment

The plan supports Kinsale’s aim to fulfil its economic potential as a quality urban centre providing employment, shopping services and public transports for its rural hinterland. Kinsale’s local economy is largely tourism-based. The Traffic Transportation Plan has identified the need for improved set-down and parking facilities in the town.  Pressure for car parks is a continuous issue within the town, especially during the summer. The inner relief road and options to explore delivery of a park-and-ride facility during peak tourism season are also short-term delivery priorities.

Town centre and retail

Vacancy rates in Kinsale town centre continue to be among the lowest in the county. The plan is to continue to protect the historic fabric of the town centre, but its historic layout makes retail development difficult.

Some additional land has been zoned for retail development close to the new SuperValu.

There is a need to create active frontages onto the street for any future proposals on this site and deliver a high quality public realm and provide links to the town centre and adjacent residential areas.

West Cork Municipal District

CLONAKILTY

Population and housing

Clonakilty currently has a population of 4,602, projected to reach 6,385 by 2028. In order to accommodate this increase an additional 828 new units will be needed, 784 can be delivered on residentially-zoned land, while the balance of 80 units can be delivered within the built footpath of the town. Clonakilty has an active housing market with a number of residential developments under construction. There are, however, significant issues with the supply of drinking water in Clonakilty, and Cork County Council is engaging with Irish Water with a view to developing solutions to resolve this.

Urban design

The aim is to establish a strong positive identity for the town and ensure that any new buildings or development respects the local setting and context. It also wants to create an attractive urban environment that will enhance the liveability of the area and attract inward investment.

Social and community development

The scale of growth predicted for Clonakilty in this plan will place significant new demands on social and community infrastructure which includes schools and recreation facilities. Significant investment will be required and it is noted that the town has a limited supply of active and open spaces. The Council will also work with the Department of Education and Skills to identify where in the town educational requirements will be required in the future in order to meet projected population growth.

Green infrastructure

The plan supports the creation, maintenance and enhancement of existing and new green infrastructure assets in Clonakilty. The Council also recognises the importance of conveniently located open spaces within the town.

Economy and employment

This plan promotes the development of Clonakilty as a major centre of employment  and population with good access to educational and cultural facilities. The West Cork Business and Technology Park is a major source of employment and economic activity for the wider Clonakilty area. The provision of the Western relief road in conjunction with the future development of the employment lands to the south west is of critical importance. Clonakilty is an attractive location for investment and there are zoned sites for business and industrial use.

Tourism

Tourism is a significant industry in Clonakilty and the plan recognises that there is potential to further enhance the tourism product of the town, which has a strong folk music and culinary tradition. Cork County Council will also support the development of greenway trails/ cycling and pedestrian access from for example, West Cork Model Railway Village to Inchydoney Beach or the SuperValu roundabout to Ring village.

Town centre and retail

It is an objective of the plan to ensure the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre is retained and enhanced. More high quality/destination retailers, which generate additional footfall, would need to be attracted into the heart of the town centre. Significant improvement works have already been carried out  including the new public square at the junction of Ashe Street and Astna Street which has created a vibrant public space.

Water

The Clonakilty water supply is at its limit and watermains network is poor and the provision of a new source is required. Irish Water are currently considering a number of options. The Clonakilty Flood Relief Scheme, which is now complete and operational, is designed to protect the town from fluvial flooding from rivers and streams along with tidal flooding from Clonakilty Bay.

BANTRY

Population and  housing

Bantry’s population target for 2028 is 4,133, an increase of 1,476 on the Census 2016 figure. In order to accommodate this, an additional 554 new dwelling units will be required and of those, 467 can be delivered on residentially zoned lands, while the balance of 87 can be delivered within the built footprint of the town. The plan has made a provision for a residential net land supply of 31 hectares. In many cases, the development of land identified for new residential development is dependent on the delivery of new roads and water services infrastructures. The timeline for the delivery of this infrastructure is uncertain and may be beyond direct control of the Council. The development of the Bantry bypass will enable the future progression of new residential developments to the south  of the town.

Urban design

The development of the town presents a number of challenges but there are also opportunities. There should be a focus on the potential of more centrally-located sites and opportunities through regeneration of under-utilised sites. The delivery of flood protection and culvert upgrades could provide opportunities for future public realm projects in the town.

The Council is currently progressing a number of public realm improvement through the Destination Towns project, which will see the enhancement of public seating, street furniture, paving, signage and other measures. The southern inner harbour site overlooking Bantry Bay has been identified for regeneration in the plan. This site impacts adversely on the visual amenities on the main approach road into the town. Any development on this site should be of very high standard contemporary architectural design, given the visual sensitivity of the site.

Social and community facilities

The future expansion of primary schools sites will be based on population growth and a site has been identified on lands to provide an additional 16-classroom primary school. Over the lifetime of the plan it is proposed that the range of educational, sporting and community facilities be expanded. The plan has designated substantial areas of open space for active and informal public recreation, which will seek greater emphasis on the development of new pedestrian walks and cycleways. Bantry is designated a Category 1 Cycling Hub and it’s important the completed facilities are provided in the town.

Green infrastructure

The plan seeks to link areas of current and future passive and active recreation within a dedicated network of open spaces creating a pedestrian and cyclist-friendly environment.

Economy and employment

The overall strategy is to focus on local catchment employment and an infrastructure programme to service land supply identified for future employment development focused on medium to small businesses. There are five sites zoned for business use and one for industrial use, with the majority of this land still available for development. The plan recognises that remote working hubs have the potential to provide employment opportunities, with two hubs operating in the town.

Read part II here.

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