Councillors sign off on €90m regeneration plan

A REVISED €90 million regeneration plan for one of Cork’s most disadvantaged areas has been adopted, paving the way for the construction of hundreds of new council homes.

But the new Northwest Regeneration Masterplan for Knocknaheeny, Hollyhill and parts of Churchfield will need “considerable and consistent” state funding over many years to be fully realised.

City manager Tim Lucey said despite the difficult economic conditions, the council is in a strong position to secure the required funding after adopting the plan before the year end.

The masterplan will be submitted to the Department of Environment for funding.

Hundreds of millions of euro have been spent on regeneration projects in the north-west of the city since the 1990s. However, as the council work advanced, the Government ordered a review of the original masterplan which was drawn up in 2001.

Following months of detailed consultation, the revised plan for the area which includes computer giant Apple’s European headquarters and the grounds of St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital, has now been agreed.

It sets out how and when over 600 new social, voluntary and private houses will be built over the coming years, replacing many of the existing houses in Knocknaheeny. Existing houses in Hollyhill will be improved and new roads will be built.

The plan also includes new sports facilities, several natural and all-weather pitches, a running/walking track, a boxing club, a new playground, a skate park, a possible third-level training and well-being facility, and improved shopping and commercial area.

Councillors signed off on the plan despite some concerns about housing density, the inclusion of three-storey apartments in some areas, and the inclusion of parts of the St Mary’s Orthopaedic Hospital campus in the revamp area.

“It’s a great night for the city, for the northside of the city and in particular the Knocknaheeny and Hollyhill,” Cllr Tony Fitzgerald (FF) said.

“But it will not all be about brick and mortar. There will be equal attention to physical, social and economic development in the area.”

Cllr Sean Martin (FF) described it as a “huge step forward” for the Knocknaheeny area.

But Cllr Des Cahill (FG) said the money should be spent repairing the council’s existing housing stock first.

“Before you start taking on huge projects of this nature, we should be trying to maintain our existing properties,” he said.

“Just 10% of the budget would repair the vacant houses we own.”

Cllr Thomas Gould (SF) also called for swift “decanting” — the relocation of families from homes earmarked for demolition.

“We’ve had situations in other regeneration projects where long-established families were lost to communities due to the long time it takes to decant or relocate families,” he said.

Local people will be consulted on each phase of the development through a series of Part 8 planning applications before the council draws down funding for each phase.

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