Planners are confident of getting the green light from An Bord Pleanála to build a new town in Co Cork, despite the current economic climate.
The board has set aside up to seven days to hear Cork County Council’s plans to create a 5,000-house town at Monard, near Blarney.
If approved, it will become only the second complete pre-planned town to be built in the country after Adamstown in Co Dublin.
The hearing will take place in County Hall from May 21-28 and, according to An Bord Pleanála, it is likely to make a decision by Jul 17.
Objections have been lodged by some locals to the proposal, first mooted under the Cork Area Strategic Plan in 2000.
Nicholas Mansergh, the council’s head of planning, admitted it was not easy to predict the timescale for completion of the town as it would depend on the future economic climate.
In any event, he says it will be built in phases.
“Back in 1970, the populations of Ballincollig and Carrigaline were around 1,000 each. It took around 30 years to get their populations up to the 12,500 mark and we have that rough kind of timescale in mind for Monard.”
The council wants to be in a position to have enough houses available should the economy turn around in the years ahead.
One of the reasons it is proposing the development is the site’s location next to the Cork-Mallow railway line. Planners believe it will encourage commuters to take the train to work.
Iarnród Éireann has said it will develop a commuter railway station to serve Monard but not until the population in the new town warrants it.
“The government designated Monard as a strategic development in 2010, but we had been working on the plan for a number of years before that happened,” said Mr Mansergh.
Apart from houses, the new town will be serviced by one secondary school and four primary schools.
“It will have a town centre and three smaller village centres so people will never be too far away from shops.”
The plan also envisages a number of playing pitches, cycleways, and a 1km-long country park which will run along the site’s western boundary, adjacent to the Blarney river.
Mr Mansergh said a lot of infrastructure would have to be put in place before any houses could be developed.
“The first phase of the development would have to include the provision of water and sewerage infrastructure and a new road into the site.
“We think we will be able to put forward a reasonably solid case [to An Bord Pleanála] for why Monard should be built.”
However, there has been some disquiet that such a large scale development is premature, especially considering the prevailing economic climate and the large number of houses which remain unoccupied in the city and county.
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