CORK County Council planners have warned that inadequate water infrastructure in rural villages will curb housing development.
Members of the Municipal District of West Cork met in Dunmanway last week to discuss the Local Area Plan and they were informed by a planning official that ‘unless water services infrastructure (which comes under the jurisdiction of Irish Water) is resolved, rural development will be limited to single dwellings that have their own water supply.’
The lack of investment by Irish Water in rural areas means multiple housing developments are not likely to be met with a favourable response from the Council.
On the draft Local Area Plan maps, several villages throughout West Cork have been marked in red – meaning they don’t have adequate water infrastructure for development. These include Ahakista, Ardfield, Ballinascarthy, Ballygurteen, Ballylickey, Ballinacarriga, Butlerstown and Coppeen.
Until water infrastructure services are provided in these areas, the planning officials said the Council would need to ‘manage’ the available water service and take ‘a more cautious approach’ to development.
Cllr Mary Hegarty (FG) said: ‘Adequate water services are vital for house building, tourism and the sustainable growth and development of small rural communities.’
Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) said he understood the Council’s frustration with Irish Water because the onus is on them to provide the service. ‘This is a major issue. We also need Irish Water to take estates throughout West Cork in charge and that isn’t happening either.’
He said there are numerous primary schools in rural communities in West Cork – Ardfield and Barryroe included – that are ‘bursting at the seams’. He said these rural communities are growing and they need basic services, such as an adequate water supply system.
The sale of a nine acre site in Skibbereen was also discussed at the meeting. Cllr Joe Carroll (FF) said it was imperative that the land – which is located between the new secondary school and old convent site – be re-zoned.
It is currently zoned for educational use, but Cllr Carroll said it would be better for everyone – the investor and the town of Skibbereen – if the nine acres were zoned for housing.
He said the resulting development charges levied by the Council could then ‘contribute greatly’ to the completion of a new relief road linking the new school to the N71 at Cork Road.
The potential to open up a new tract of land for house building would, he added, be a major development opportunity for the town.