COUNTY councillors have complained that the Cork submission to the National Planning Framework is ‘weighted’ towards the city.
The comment was made by Cllr Paul Hayes (SF) following a presentation about Cork 2050, a joint submission by Cork County Council and Cork City Council to the National Planning Framework (NPF).
Robert McLoughlin, one of the consultants involved in drafting the strategy, told the members of Cork County Council that the Cork approach ‘will maximise the resource that is metropolitan Cork and Cork city, county towns, villages, rural areas and islands, by building on strengths and addressing issues that are holding places back.’
The strategy also predicts that the population of the city and county will increase from 542,000 to 846,000 by 2050 and it identifies ‘a road map’ of how to promote development and deal with the expected population growth.
However, several councillors expressed reservations about the executive summary, which is to be submitted as part of a national plan on March 31st.
Cllr Hayes made the point that Ringaskiddy and Cork Airport were identified in the executive summary as being of strategic importance but it made no mention of the huge economic importance of the fishing port in Castletownbere. The Sinn Féin councillor also said: ‘We are very dependant on getting our road infrastructure and broadband service up to standard if we are to have any hope of attracting investment in the region.’
Cllr Gillian Coughlan (FF) said: ‘There is very little about it that is pioneering.’ And she complained: ‘The west is very much neglected in this plan.’
Fine Gael’s Derry Canty made the point that ‘Dublin is bursting at the seams’ and that ‘Cork is ready to take the overflow.’ But Cllr Bernard Moynihan (FF) angrily complained about the lack of housing development in the county.
He said: ‘People are being treated in an appalling manner. They can’t get planning permission in rural Ireland because they are being blocked by planners.
‘People are spending huge amounts of money preparing maps and plans and they are being rejected with a two-line response. We need a serious reality check with regard to planning, otherwise we might as well as well close down.’
The deputy county mayor, Kevin Conway (Ind) agreed that planning permission – or the lack thereof – is ‘the most frustrating thing I have to deal with as a councillor.’
Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Ind) said she regarded the summary as ‘a sales pitch to Dublin’ and complained that it was not as innovative as the Cork Area Strategic Plan (CASP).
She maintained: ‘Our strength is what is outside the city. Our rural communities are our strength. I would like to see this document focusing on what is different about Cork.’ Cllr Patrick Gerard Murphy (FF) concurred saying: ‘It is to be able to escape to places like Kinsale, or Clonakilty, or Castletownbere. We need to focus on the positives, like having the longest coastline in Ireland.’