Cork council plan would see €16m in taxes relinquished

Cork County Council would immediately relinquish commercial rates and local property tax (LPT) worth in excess of €16m per year if its revised plan for the city council boundary extension is accepted by the Implementation Oversight Group.

However, this pales into insignificance compared to what it would lose if the McKinnon report was adopted.

McKinnon recommended the county council cede control of Ballincollig, Blarney, Cork Airport, Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill to Cork City Council — an area nearly 35km wide.

Little Island and Carrigtwohill in particular, are industrial powerhouses where further substantial growth is likely and provide huge amounts of money in commercial rates for the county council.

It is estimated that ceding these areas would cost the county council around €50m in annual revenue through lost rates and LPT and even more in the years ahead as they are further developed.

The railway corridor to Midleton offers the overseeing local authority huge revenue in special development charges and LPT as thousands of acres of land are zoned there for housing development, especially around Carrigtwohill and Waterrock, Midleton.

Carrigtwohill is now the major focus for the IDA in terms of locating ‘clean industries’ there. Ringaskiddy has become a less likely proposition for the IDA because it is in a cul-de-sac, whereas Carrigtwohill and the serviced site close-by, once earmarked for US biotech giant Amgen, are adjacent to a major road network and the railway line.

Little Island Business Association has estimated its sphere of influence has significant room for expansion. It has only been held up because of traffic congestion.

Cork council plan would see €16m in taxes relinquished

This could be rectified after a local farmer offered to provide land free of charge so Transport Infrastructure Ireland and the county council could build a slip road into the area from the eastern side, near Cobh Cross.

This would open up huge tracts of Little Island to further commercial and industrial development.

The county council estimates that its proposals to extend the city boundary into land it owns in Doughcloyne, Ardrostig, Frankfield, Grange, Castletreasure, and Oldcourt on the southside and Ballyvolane, Kilbarry, and Carhoo would initially provide the city council with a cash windfall of more than €16m a year in commercial rates and LPT.

However, it claims that the future income generation potential of this proposed boundary extension from new economic and residential development through commercial rates and LPT could provide the other local authority with an income of up to €60m per year.

County council bosses will tell the boundary adjustment Implementation Oversight Group that this is of major significance in terms of creating the conditions for the future growth and sustainability of services provided by the city council.

They maintain that, in proposing this alteration to the boundary, it provides a “significant opportunity to grow a Cork that reflects the core principles of an urban city of high density of population that reflects urban city form and one that drives sustainable development”.

The proposal will be sent to Planning Minister Eoghan Murphy, the city council, and TDs.

Council prepared to cede land for boundary extension

- Sean O’Riordan  

Cork County Council said it is prepared to cede territory for the extension of the city boundary, but nowhere near the scale proposed by the Mackinnon report.

At a behind-closed doors meeting, county councillors agreed to submit a new plan to the implementation oversight group appointed by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government Eoghan Murphy.

The plan will see them give up 1,060 hectares of greenfield land on the south and north edges of the city. This will include land in Doughcloyne, Ardrostig, Frankfield, Grange, Castletreasure, Oldcourt, Ballyvolane, Kilbarry, and Carhoo. This is much less than the what was recommended by the Mackinnon report, which suggested the city council be allowed to take control of Ballincollig, Blarney, Cork Airport, Glanmire, Little Island, and Carrigtwohill.

Cork Airport
Cork Airport

County councillors have consistently rejected that plan, describing it as nothing more than a cash grab on big rates-generating areas.

The county council says its latest submission ceding the northern and southern environs, would provide for an immediate transfer of an additional 39,258 people into the city, boosting its population from 125,657 to 164,915 — a 31.2% increase.

The proposal identifies additional greenfield reserves in these areas which could provide housing for a population of 43,700.

The county council will argue that, based on the likely outcome of the National Planning Framework (NPF), which is expected to provide for as much as a 60% increase in population growth in our principal cities, this will allow for a targeted increase in the existing city council area of up to 75,000 people.

County council officials say that under their new proposals, the extended city will have the capacity to grow to up to a population of 283,915 in line with a high-density urban city and will be supported by the NPF to achieve this growth level. They have also stated that arising from the proposed extension the density of population per sq km will increase from 3,323 per sq km to 4,069 per sq km.

The county council says that, under their plan, the extended Cork City will measure 69.76 sq km, comparing favourably to Dublin City Council’s administrative area, which measures 115 sq km.

County councillors claim room for manoeuvre on city expansion

- Sean O’Riordan 

It is very unlikely Cork City councillors will accept the county council’s proposals, but this may be the opening gambit in a game of compromise.

Independent Cllr Alan Coleman (Innishannon) maintained there was room for manoeuvre and both sides should be allowed to thrash out an agreement before the implementation group makes a decision.

Fine Gael Cllr Michael Hegarty (Ladysbridge) said he would be prepared to throw in Glanmire “but nothing further”, adding that the city council has not properly looked after what it already has.

Cork County Hall
Cork County Hall

Fine Gael Cllr John O’Sullivan (Courtmacherry) said having two local authorities pitted against each other was not good. “In my view, the best way forward is a single authority with strong municipal districts,” he said.

Conceding so much territory was “a non-starter” for Fianna Fáil Cllr Bernard Moynihan (Duhallow).

He said peripheral areas relied on money derived from Metropolitan Cork to survive.

Independent Cllr Mary Linehan-Foley (Youghal) said she was afraid the McKinnon report was a “done deal” and maintained people living throughout the city and county should have the right to vote on the boundary extension.

Fianna Fáil Cllr Pat Murphy (Bantry) said the county council had used statistics complied by its planning policy unit for the proposal.

“We haven’t seen any stats in the McKinnon report. But if that’s accepted there will be 800 people per sq ft in the city, compared to 4,200 per sq ft in Dublin. That’s not sustainable,” he said.

Independent Cllr Marcia D’Alton (Passage West) said the council’s latest proposal “made much more sense”.

Sinn Féin Cllr Des O’Grady (Macroom) saw the new proposal as “opening negotiation”.


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