Cork boundary extension focuses on commuters

Data justifying the scale of the proposed Cork City boundary extension has emerged ahead of a crunch meeting on an alternative boundary suggestion.

The figures show most of the workforce in the largest county areas affected by a proposed extension commutes to the city for work.

However, it is expected the county council’s surprise offer last week to cede certain land to the city will be “noted” at a special city council meeting on Monday, and city councillors will call for the boundary extension, as proposed by Mackinnon, to be implemented.

The Mackinnon group published its report in June calling for the retention of Cork’s two local authorities in tandem with a significant city boundary expansion to include areas such as Cork Airport, Douglas, Grange, Frankfield, Rochestown, Ballincollig to the west, Tower, Blarney, Monard and Rathpeacon to the north, and Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill to the east.

If sanctioned, it would increase the city’s population by 100,000 to 225,000.

The inclusion of Blarney, Ballincollig, and Carrigtwohill has sparked controversy.

But, in a letter to former local government minister Simon Coveney in May, Mr Mackinnon explained why those areas should be included in an expanded city.

Pending the release of 2016 Census data later this month, he said data from the 2011 Census shows the vast majority of the workforce in these areas commutes daily to the city to work. In Ballincollig, the figure is over 81%; in Blarney the figure is 62.5%; and in Carrigtwohill, the figure is 58.7%. He said Ballincollig, as a metropolitan town and major centre for population and employment growth close to Cork City, combined with the high-density development of its town centre, reflects a more urban development pattern compared to county towns. Regional planning guidelines identified a rapid transit corridor linking Ballincollig, the city centre, docklands, and Mahon.

“Generally, similar considerations can be said to apply to other suburban towns such as Blarney and Carrigtwohill, in that both have been subject to planned development as metropolitan towns in close proximity to the city, and both can be said to form part of the east-west corridor for Cork City,” he said. “Thus, the group feel that there are compelling grounds based on both housing density and commuting patterns for considering towns such as Ballincollig, Blarney, and Carrigtwohill as forming an integral part of the de facto urbanised city area.”

County councillors have proposed a more modest expansion that does not include Ballincollig, Blarney, Little Island, Carrigtwohill, Cork Airport, or Monard. The county is prepared to cede Doughcloyne, Ardrostig, Frankfield, Donnybrook Grange, Castletreasure, and Rochestown on the southside, and Kilbarry, Carhoo, Kilcully, and Ballyvolane to the north.

Those areas generate €16m a year in commercial rates and local property tax but have the potential to generate income of €60m a year.

This would increase the city’s population by about a third to over 164,000, and its geographical area by 84.5%.

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