DEVELOPMENT and infrastructure in Cork is being stifled by the National Roads Authority (NRA) and Government agency inaction – at a time while Dublin is poised for infrastructure developments like Metro North and the DART underground which could cost billions.
That’s according to developer Michael O’Flynn, who recently had a €400 million Cork development rejected by An Bord Pleanála, after NRA objections. It was rejected as premature, pending upgrades at Cork’s pivotal Dunkettle interchange. Design work to upgrade the busy roundabout, by the Jack Lynch Tunnel, however hasn’t even started, said Mr O’Flynn, while the NRA is lining up consultants to object to as many as 20 developments which may impact on traffic there. The NRA had also objected to a park and ride at Dunkettle, and had dragged its feet on upgrades to the N28 Cork city to Ringaskiddy route, serving the Port of Cork’s expansion plans and thousands of pharm-chem jobs, as well as on the south ring road roundabout flyovers, he added.
Calling for business and political activism for the greater Cork region, Mr O’Flynn yesterday said “the economic development of Cork cannot be left at the whim of the NRA. If the NRA continues to have its way, Cork is going nowhere. Who would invest in a region where national and local policies are ignored and can be undermined by the narrow concerns of one national agency?”
Mr O’Flynn also called for a fundamental review of the way the planning appeal board that an Bord Pleanála operates, given the way it overruled the locally-adopted CASP plan for ordered development in the region up to 2020.
“An Bord Pleanála has given precedence over these plans to the concerns of the NRA relating to the preservation of the Dunkettle Interchange for national traffic. This is despite the fact that the interchange was specifically designed to cater for both national and local traffic and that the NRA – whose function and responsibility it is to provide a national road infrastructure – has been aware of the capacity issues at the interchange since before 2004 and has sat on its hands and failed even to undertake a design of the upgrade it pleads is so urgently required,” he said.
Mr O’Flynn said Cork’s role as a counterbalance to Dublin – and to attract inward investment – was not being given priority.
Cork needed An Bord Pleanála recognition of local democracy and CASP and regional development guidelines, otherwise “economic development will be further depressed.”
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