Residents vow to fight Páirc Uí Chaoimh vote

Residents fighting a proposal to rezone land next to Páirc Uí Chaoimh have vowed to pack Cork City Hall tonight and “look councillors in the eye” as they vote.

They are poised to vote on the rezoning of just under seven acres of land next to the GAA grounds which, if agreed, will pave the way for a €40m redevelopment of the stadium.

A simple majority is required. It is expected that the rezoning will get the green light.

But Denis O’Regan, a spokesperson for the Save Marina Park campaign, said residents were prepared to fight their case all the way to An Bórd Pleanála.

“We are not opposed to the redevelopment of Pairc Uí Chaoimh. The vast majority of us are GAA fans,” he said.

“The stadium needs to be upgraded, and it would be great for city if it was.

“But we view this as a land grab. No other alternatives have been considered.

“And it will completely sever the proposed Marina Park, resulting in a loss of a major amenity for the city.”

The Cork County Board wants to revamp the ageing stadium, increase its capacity from 43,000 to 50,000, improve player, officials’ and spectator facilities, and develop a “centre of excellence” next to the stadium, to include an all-weather pitch and a 1,000-seat stand. The land required for the centre of excellence is part of the former Showgrounds site, which the city acquired by CPO from the Munster Agricultural Society.

Zoned for Public Open Space, it was acquired to form part of the proposed Marina Park — a massive sub-regional park included in the city’s 2008 South Docks Local Area Plan (LAP).

But following extensive consultation between the GAA and the council, councillors voted last October in favour of disposing this key 6.8-acre package of land to the Cork County Board to help its development plans.

Critics of the plan say the centre of excellence would completely sever the proposed Marina Park.

Councillors will consider a report from city manager Tim Lucey tonight recommending a variation in the South Docks LAP to change the zoning of this site.

The proposed variation was put out for public consultation in February.

A total of 123 submissions were received — one supporting it, two making observations, and the rest opposing the rezoning — most of those coming from residents in the Ballintemple and Blackrock areas.

The South West Regional Authority considered the proposed change to the South Docks LAP to be consistent with the South West Regional Planing Guidelines.

In a detailed assessment of the other responses, Mr Lucey said residents’ concerns about the impact of match-traffic, parking, litter and antisocial behaviour could be thoroughly examined at the planning application stage.

The County Board, which has appointed a design team to oversee the project, has said it hopes to lodge a planning application in June and, pending the outcome of the planning process, start construction before the end of the year.

Up to 300 jobs could be created during the two-year project.

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