Plans have been approved to kickstart the first phase of a new-town development in east Cork. Up to 2,500 houses are scheduled to be built.
County councillors rubber-stamped plans to open up land at Waterrock, 23kms east of Cork City, for the project which will initially provide the infrastructure to create 525 new homes.
The land, between Carrigtwhohill and Midleton, is on the Cork Commuter Rail Corridor which is designated by the local authority for major housing projects.
The council is to utilise €5.5m from the Government-provided Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund to open up key sites for development.
The council has decided to plough ahead with the first phase of housing by providing infrastructure to facilitate 520 houses, likely to be constructed next year.
However, it will be constrained from opening up the rest of the land in the area for further development until Transport Infrastructure Ireland (TII) upgrades the main Cork-Midleton road (N25) to provide for improved accessibility to the new town.
TII says it has no plans to carry out the upgrade until 2027 at the earliest.
In the interim, the local authority plans to build a link road connecting the Midleton Northern Relief Road to the Waterrock site.
Ross Palmer, the county council's senior planner, is on record as saying the connecting road will be designed in a way to discourage speeding.
“It’s got numerous signalised junctions, numerous bends along it that will reduce speed, and it will also include raised (speed ramp) tables,” he said.
A separate investment of €8m by Irish Water will upgrade water and sewage facilities to accommodate the development of the new town.
A new pumping station and mains will be constructed near Waterrock to pump waste to the Carrigtwohill Waste Water Treatment Plant. Irish Water has said it could become operational by 2021.
The 160-hectare Waterrock development is part of two masterplans drawn up by the county council for major development adjacent to the Cork-Midleton railway line.
The local authority has also drawn up a plan for the further expansion of Carrigtwohill, on 120 hectares of land to the north of its railway line. This land is also capable of accommodating a further 2,500 homes.
Andrew Hind, the former chief planner who drew up both plans, said the two areas were ideal for further expansion as they were close to the railway line and thus offered sustainable transport for commuters.