A UCC economist has warned that objections to car traffic should not stand in the way of major housing developments.
The comments, from regional policy expert Dr Frank Crowley, come as the southside of Cork city faces a number of fast-track planning applications, potentially resulting in more than 500 new homes in the coming years.
Two major developments on the southside of Cork city have been submitted directly to An Bord Pleanála under the Strategic Housing Development (SHD) initiative which allows developers to bypass local authorities for developments of more than 100 units to speed up the construction of new houses.
The deadline for public submissions on a proposed development of 251 houses in Cooney's Lane in Grange passed yesterday. Members of the public have until Monday to submit observations on a proposal for 240 homes in Bishopstown in the south-west of Cork city. A final decision on the Grange development is due on March 27, with a ruling on the Bishopstown proposal due on April 1.
Both projects have been criticised by local councillors, who fear that inadequate roads infrastructure exists to handle the increased traffic that would come with the new homes.
However, Dr Crowley has dismissed such concerns and instead urged local authorities to press ahead with public transport infrastructure in these areas as a matter of priority.
"Car traffic should not be a go-to or valid reason to object to any development. Of course, there is traffic; we live in a city where most of the population are car dependent. Traffic, cars and parking are nearly always the first reason to object to any development and it is starting to become ridiculous. If Cork wants to be prosperous and grow it needs to curb its obsession in car-dependent development," he said.
"These two developments may be poorly served by public transport currently but that is largely because local politicians and our council executives have failed to provide buses with dedicated space on our roads that require them to be efficient, reliable, cost-effective and their scale increased.
"Consequently, most areas of the Cork city region are poorly served by reliable public transport. This reality could be changed almost overnight by changing the space allocation on our road infrastructure."