Cork County Council hopes to secure advance funding from the Department of Environment to build new roads and bridges which will open up two adjoining sites in East Cork for major development.
The locations are at Carrigtwohill and Water Rock in the greater Midleton area.
The council’s senior planner Andrew Hind confirmed discussions on the proposed infrastructure are continuing with the department in an initiative that envisages huge new housing projects and retail facilities, along with primary and secondary schools as well as new amenity areas.
The local authority is hoping to recoup the funding through special contributions from developers.
While he outlined the proposed developments at Carrigtwohill and Water Rock, near Midleton, more detailed plans were delivered to councillors yesterday by two senior members of his team.
Executive planner Ronan MacKernan outlined the proposals for the 120 hectare site immediately to the north of the railway line at Carrigtwohill.
He said it was planned to build approximately 2,600 houses in this area, along with two primary schools, a secondary school, a large park and two smaller parks.
A small local retail centre is also earmarked and will include shops and professional business outlets along with a new community centre.
When an Irish Rail link to the area was being restored, the county council took the prudent step of paying for the construction of an under- bridge in the area which it will now open for cars to access the development site.
Another underpass nearby, currently used as a cattle crossing, will be converted for the sole use of cyclists and pedestrians.
Mr MacKernan said the site would have three access roads and, importantly, it was close to the existing train station.
The council is hopeful city-bound commuters will be tempted to park their vehicle and avail of the 21 trains operating daily into Cork.
The three local bridges which traverse the railway line will also be improved for use by cyclists and pedestrians.
The plan also envisages at some point, when more than 1,750 houses are built there, that a new interchange will be developed connecting the development site with the Cork-Midleton road on the national primary route N25, close to the once- earmarked Amgen site.
A new sewage treatment plant being constructed at nearby Rossmore will be able to cater for the new houses and businesses.
A shopping centre, including space for a small supermarket and outlets for GPs, auctioneers and others will be built within the area.
The executive planner said they would be kept to a size which wouldn’t impact on later shops in Carrigtwohill.
Meanwhile, executive planner Suzanne Gunnip outlined the Water Rock plans.
She said they included the potential for 2,500 houses on 160 hectares of zoned land, which would be built in three phases, with the first two being for 1,000 houses at a time and the remaining 500 last.
Like Carrigtwohill, there is also provision for two primary schools and a secondary school, plus a large park and two smaller parks to support the recreational needs of the new residents.
Ms Gunnip said that the area near the former Dawn Meats factory, where the new railway station will be built, had also been identified as an ideal location for future industries and businesses.
She said that a small commercial/retail centre would also be positioned close to the new houses along with a 16-acre park.
Ms Gunnip pointed out that a new road would have to be built to connect the site with the existing northern Midleton relief road and that the houses envisaged would range between high and medium density.
She said that a new road bridge would also have to be built into the plan, which would lead to the closure of the railway level crossing at Water Rock.
In addition she said that flood risk, ecological and transport studies had been carried out to ensure the plans were the best they could come up with.
Irish Water has given a commitment to upgrade Midleton’s water and sewage treatment facilities to cater for the expansion at Water Rock.
Cllrs Cathal Rasmussen (Lab), Kieran McCarthy (SF) and Claire Cullinane (Ind) said that while they welcomed the plans they were concerned the cash-strapped council couldn’t afford to build the infrastructure necessary to open up the land, especially when they were already hard-pressed to fill in potholes.
Mr Hind said this was why the council had approached the Department of Environment for an advanced loan.
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