Haulbowline Island is set to become a major tourism and leisure attraction in Cork harbour under a master plan due for completion by the year end.
Planning permission was granted in May for a clean-up project at a tip site on part of the island, accessed by motorists from Ringaskiddy but also accessible by boat from Cobh.
This should clear the way for the 22-acre eastern side of the island to be turned into a public park, but Cork County Council wants to set a clear vision for further developments of the island which also hosts the headquarters of the Irish Navel Service.
Among the aims are the development of the island as a key to helping “unlock Cork Harbour’s potential as the maritime gateway to Europe and the Atlantic”.
The goals are set out in a brief by the council for consultants applying to design the masterplan which it expects to be delivered to a project management team by late November.
Among other proposed measures is the provision of a framework for future planning applications, but also to achieve co-ordination between existing and future land uses, including the development of Haulbowline as a workplace, a destination and a place to stay.
The plan will also be expected to articulate a vision to integrate the island’s tourism potential into the greater harbour tourism product.
A strategy to be included in the blueprint should show ease of movement for pedestrians within the island but also between it and Ringaskiddy, Cobh and Cork City.
A wider transportation vision is to include options for potential access to nearby Spike Island — including bridge, pedestrian walkway or ferry — which is already becoming a popular tourist attraction, as well as public access to Haulbowline by road and water.
Other potential land uses to be taken into account should be continued naval use, public amenity, a centre for excellence for maritime technology and energy, accommodation, a dry dock, testing and launching facilities.
“The masterplan must also take into consideration the significant future requirements of the Naval Service as a result of the delivery of two new vessels in the next two years,” says the project brief.
A contract is expected to be awarded by the start of August, with significant interaction required with the project management group.
Meanwhile, the EPA last month signalled its intention to grant the waste licence necessary for remediation of the tip site, where much of the 650,000 cubic tonnes of waste deposited over 40 years has already been removed and exported to Germany. A study of the former Irish Ispat steelworks in the centre of the island, shut over a decade ago, is being prepared by outside consultants.
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