Plans to build a new town with a population of up to 13,000 on the northern outskirts of Cork city received a major boost on Wednesday when An Bord Pleanála approved a revised proposal by Cork County Council for the project.
The council had sought planning approval in 2012 for the 5,000-house scheme at Monard, some 6kms northwest of Cork city. But the planning board refused permission on a number of grounds, including insufficient road and rail infrastructure in the area.
But the council revised its scheme for the Strategic Development Zone at Monard in 2013 and 2014 and, following an oral hearing spanning the end of 2015 and early 2016, the planning board has granted approval.
Council chief executive Tim Lucey welcomed the decision and said that it was a significant boost to the council’s plans for the metropolitan Cork area.
The planning board’s decision to approve the council’s scheme for Monard means there can be no appeals against any individual constituent projects submitted by developers for the new town once they are in keeping with the council’s proposal for Monard.
The council’s plan involves building four villages and a town centre on some 319 hectares or 966 acres of predominantly undeveloped greenfield agricultural land at Monard, approximately 4kms northwest of the city suburb of Blackpool and 4kms northeast of Blarney village.
The project involves the construction of a new railway station on the main Cork-Mallow rail line which runs through the site as well as investment in a road network together with the construction of several primary schools and a secondary school in the new town.
The proposal to build the new town in Monard is in line with national and strategy policy as set out in the National Spatial Strategy as well as both the 2014 Cork County Development Plan and the Cork Area Strategic Plan (Casp) 2001-2020 which was revised in 2008, noted An Bord Pleanála.
“It is anticipated that Monard will support the aims of Casp by contributing to a more balanced distribution of growth and modern economic development in the Cork area by increasing the proportion of same occurring on the northern side off the city,” said An Bord Pleanála.
However, the council’s proposals involve the investment by a number of public or semi-state bodies of an estimated €50 million in public infrastructure such as new roads, sewage and water services and a new railway station at Monard. The project could take 10-15 years to complete.
The resubmitted plan by the council addressed the grounds for the 2012 refusal including the lack of a northern ring road and a rail station at Monard without which, An Bord Pleanála had warned, the new town would lead to major traffic congestion in the surrounding areas.
The revised plan also addressed planning board concerns that the low density nature of the original proposal did not achieve efficient use of land given the scale of public investment required to make the site suitable for development.
Source: The Irish Times