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Report: Current Cork boundaries ‘not viable’

Words: Laura Edgar
Cork / Shutterstock_579696373

A report considering the future local government arrangements of Cork says retaining the city's current boundaries is ‘not viable’, and recommends that the Cork City Council area should be expanded and a Cork Metropolitan Area Plan be created.

Ireland’s housing and planning minister Simon Coveney established the Expert Advisory Group on Local Government Arrangements in Cork in October 2016.

He tasked them to make recommendations and to review a report published in 2015 (pdf), which recommended that the city and county should merge as well as consider wider options.

The advisory group has concluded that “retaining the status quo is not a viable option”.

The report states the current boundary is “by common consent hopelessly out of date”, and doesn’t reflect the pattern of urban development. The boundary is also deemed to be unhelpful to Cork’s position as the driver of economic development.

It concluded that the best option for Cork would be to have a city council focused on the development of the city and its immediate hinterland as Ireland’s second city with the potential to drive the development of the city region.

The city council boundary should be extended to increase the population of the city council to 215,000 (based on 2011 census figures) and approximately 225,000 based on 2016 census figures.

The boundary should be based on physical, social and natural borders, according to the report, reflecting local communities, townlands and infrastructure. “This would allow the city to consolidate its position and to grow and develop its potential,” it states.

The city boundary should be extended to include Ballincollig, Carrigrohane, Blarney, Glanmire, Carrigtwohill, and Cork Airport.

The county council should focus on the needs of county towns and rural parts of Cork as well as the harbour area.

An expanded city and newly configured county will still have to cooperate and work together in a range of areas. The group has recommended setting up a Cork Economic Development and Planning Board with representatives for both the city and county that focuses on strategic planning for economic development, housing provision and strategic infrastructure in Cork city and the wider area.

The board should adopt a Cork Metropolitan Area Plan.

Coveney said he would move quickly to implement the report.

“I am happy to accept the main recommendations in this report, while certain details will need to be firmed up as we move to implementation.

“The group has produced comprehensive and innovative proposals to deal with the challenges facing Cork as a result of the growth of the city. This will enable the issues to be dealt with conclusively so that they will not need to be revisited. I now intend to appoint an implementation body, as recommended by the group, to oversee what will be the largest ever city boundary extension in the state and the other measures recommended in the report.”

Report of the Expert Advisory Group on Local Government Arrangements in Cork can be found on the Irish Government website (pdf).

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