By Pádraig Hoare
The long-mooted Northern Ring Road to unlock the economic potential of Cork city’s northside is more crucial than the proposed €850m M20 motorway between Cork and Limerick, a planning expert has said.
Director of Coakley O’Neill Town Planning, Dave Coakley told University College Cork Planning Society conference that the Northern Ring Road had to be made priority in any national development plan for the country.
The eastern half of the Northern Ring Road was included in the €116bn national development plan, as was the M20. The eastern half will connect the M8 Cork to Dublin motorway with the M20, according to the national development plan,
According to business leaders, the long-mooted northern ring road from the Glanmire bypass towards Poulavone in Ballincollig would open up the area’s economic potential.
Mr Coakley said: “We need a northern ring road more than the M20 as it is a crucial piece of infrastructure that will unlock the development potential of the northside of the city, rebalance the overall city, and assist in facilitating the redevelopment and regeneration of the city centre.”
Mr Coakley questioned whether the Government’s assertion that Cork would be the fastest growing region by 2020 was a “realistic ambition or blind optimism.”
Lecturer in urban economics and housing at DIT, Lorcan Sirr, claimed local democracy was “emasculated” by central Government in relation to planning.
“A combination of policy-tinkering, a reluctance to use more state lands for housing and a focus on viability for suppliers, rather than on affordability for potential purchasers has meant we are not seeing the levels of housing in urban areas that we need to.
“The centralisation of planning powers also removes the ability for local democracy to tailor solutions for their area. Local planning is being emasculated, which is something that should be of concern to planners and planning students across the country,” he said.
Chief executive of Cork City Council, Ann Doherty told the conference that Project Ireland 2040 was “a vote of confidence in Cork”.