A long-serving public representative has described efforts to have a designated flood plain dezoned as “like the passion of Christ”.
Councillors in Midleton insist the east Cork town has no history of severe flooding at a site proposed for apartments and retail units.
But the planning authorities do not agree.
Independent councillor Noel Collins, who has served the town for almost 40 years, compared the planners’ efforts to doubting Thomas.
He told a town council meeting: “Thomas needed to place his fingers in Christ’s wounds. As such, Cork County Council has no such proof and see a flood plain where there is none.”
Planners at the March meeting rejected assurances from councillors that the controversial site at Watersedge, beside the Owenacurra River and about 500m from Midleton town centre, posed no flood risk.
In 2009, Mogeesha Developments Ltd acquired planning permission to construct 267 apartments, retail outlets, a road, bridge and associated works.
The company has since installed flood channels as part of a long-term project that already accommodates stores such as Aldi, Lidl and McDonalds. However, the Office of Public Works declared the area to be a “one-in-a-100-years” flood risk.
As a result, Cork County Council is seeking government guidelines to be applied retrospectively against the next phase of the development.
Midleton Town Council persistently refused to amend its development plan accordingly, arguing that the project was vital to the town’s growth and further claimed the alleviation measures are highly effective.
Minister of State Jan O’Sullivan issued a draft directive to dezone the land to “open use/recreation”.
This month’s council meeting again rejected recommendations by county planners to heed the minister’s direction.
Fianna Fáil councillor Niall O’Neill said that “half the world — and look at Holland — is reclaiming land below sea level because of the amenity value of water”.
“Yet Cork County Council has an Irish solution for an Irish problem in a small part of Midleton with no proven flood risk.”
Mayor Ted Murphy noted “if the developer decided to start building there tomorrow, he’s be perfectly entitled to do so”.
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