Cork councillors seek meeting with housing minister over developer fears

Cork County Council is to seek a meeting with Minister Eoghan Murphy amid fears that rural areas could be overrun with new homes after Bord Pleanála asked developers to increase densities.

Councillors have expressed fears that their Local Area Plans (LAPs) for the future development of towns and villages will be undermined by the new directives adopted by Bord Pleanála.

Applications for 100 houses-plus are now no longer being handled by the local authority, but are instead decided by Bord Pleanála under Strategic Housing.

Councillors representing the area along the Cork-Midleton rail corridor are particularly concerned about this.

They are worried that villages like Glounthaune will be swamped by developers and the rail corridor will turn into an area full of apartment complexes.

Cllr Anthony Barry, who lives in Carrigtwohill, won widespread support from colleagues when he tabled a motion requesting that the council seek a meeting between a delegation of elected members and council officials and Minister Murphy and planning officials from the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government.

He said that while there is an urgent need to build more housing, it has to be done in a proper manner which won't submerge rural areas.

Cllr Barry said the new Department/Bord Pleanála guidelines on housing densities "far exceed" what councillors passed in their Local Area Plans.

"Our job is to build sustainable communities. I have an issue with the level of densities the department is pushing for. It is opening up just apartment living," Cllr Barry said.

He added that this might be acceptable in Dublin and Cork City, but "is not sustainable when it drifts further out of cities."

Cllr Seamus McGrath said he shares many of Cllr Barry's views.

Cllr Seamus McGrath

"I'm in favour of increased densities and heights (of buildings) in larger urban centres, but it needs to work from the core out. The major pitfall is that the densities will be created on the periphery and I share his (Cllr Barry's) concern," Cllr McGrath said.

Cllr Barry pointed out that there are hundreds of homes planned for Glounthaune, but there are no amenities coming with them.

Earlier this week Bord Pleanála decided to refuse BAM permission to build 277 homes in Carrigtwohill. It rejected the plan because of the “substandard form” of the proposed development.

It also expressed concern about the relatively low density of the housing on sustainable and efficiency grounds given its close proximity to the railway station in Carrigtwohill.

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