The time is ripe for Cork to be one of the leading sustainable cities in Europe, according to a world-renowned architectural expert.
Speaking at the Irish Examiner’s business breakfast to mark the ‘Cork on the Rise’ special supplement, Angela Brady said in order for Cork to realise its goal to be a sustainable city, it needs to be led by public consultation.
“We need to do key things like appreciate the rich value in heritage, which is what gives Cork its history, culture, and identity. That is the unique selling point of Cork.
“We cannot look back at some of the older fashioned taller building models. You need to look forward to make a sustainable city that is liveable, easy to walk and cycle, and cuts down on cars. If you have a walkable city, you have a liveable city. People get to know their neighbours better, and all that goes with that.
“The people of Cork are key for public consultation; it cannot be led from the top down. The future is ripe for Cork to be one of the leading sustainable cities in Europe,” Ms Brady told the 120 business, political, and community leaders in attendance at the UCC Centre for Executive Education, in the former Cork Savings Bank building on Lapps Quay.
Developer Michael O’Flynn said while the long-term vision for Cork and Ireland under Project 2040 was a good one, there were “tremendous challenges” in the short to medium- term.
When it comes to housing, “we have to face up to the fact that we are nowhere near where we need to be”, Mr O’Flynn said.
We cannot just take care of the future, because urgent action is needed now, he said.
“We need a business plan to execute the Cork vision,” Mr O’Flynn said, with the upcoming challenges of boundary extension bedding down.
“We cannot lose the opportunity given what is happening on the national stage, because it happens to be coinciding with a boundary change here in Cork.
“We have to have a serious question about the immediate strategy to get from A to B. I agree with the ultimate strategy, but we have to have a transition along the way,” Mr O’Flynn said.
Tánaiste Simon Coveney said the national planning framework was aimed at tackling the “utterly dominant” Dublin region, which had been the economic model for the past 50 years. We cannot continue to have situations like people moving to Navan and Portlaoise but driving to Dublin for work every day, Mr Coveney said.
A directly-elected mayor with a fixed term of office instead of election cycles could provide the sustained drive towards executing the vision for Cork’s future, Mr Coveney said.
Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty said that to make Cork a sustainable city to rival international second cities such as Manchester, Barcelona, or Porto, it had to emphasise neighbourhoods and communities with better public transport and ease of access to work.