SIR – The Bantry Local Area Plan (LAP) sits within the County Development Plan and outlines the finer brush strokes of Cork County Council’s planning and development strategy for Bantry.
The LAP is specific with regards to two sites at Reenrour West, Bantry – one is a halting site and the second has more recently become an unauthorised extension of the former. Both sites are owned by Cork County Council and designated in the LAP as regeneration areas that are important strategic opportunities for the development of the town.
The LAP further envisages potential use of the sites to include, for example, an iconic civic building that would attract people into the area. To date, there is no evidence of the site regeneration envisaged in the LAP and there is little reason to be optimistic that things will change anytime soon.
The lack of optimism arises, because last July, Cork County Council adopted another important policy – the Traveller Accommodation Programme (TAP), 2019 - 2024. That policy designates the same area as a permanent halting site. The two policies are incompatible and the permanent halting site is clearly contrary to the LAP.
What then can Bantry’s inclusive citizenry, visiting tourists, local businesses and civic volunteers who work so hard for their town look forward to in the near future? The site regeneration envisaged in the LAP or the permanent halting site set out in the TAP?
As the owner of both policies, both sites and the halting site landlord as well, Cork County Council alone holds all the cards. The credibility of its planning policy and the orderly development of the Bantry harbour area stands or falls on implementation of the site regeneration set out in the LAP.
The time for the Council to play its hand has long passed.