The northside of Cork city remains an integral part of the city that needs to see its fair share of development and progress, political and business leaders have admitted.
At the Irish Examiner’s business breakfast to coincide with the special Cork On The Rise supplement, it was discussed by the panel whether the historically-neglected northside of the city was in danger of missing out on its slice of the economic and social pie in the next 20 years.
Cork City Council chief executive Ann Doherty said:
“I’d be concerned that people of the northside do not feel part of the city, because they very much are.
The northside was developed in a particular period of time, and we have started the regeneration programme on the west area of the northside. We need to move that regeneration right across.
“There are some really strategic development opportunities in the northside - Old Whitechurch Road is one that is already owned by us.
"There is land we are bringing back to the market, and obviously there is land out in Ballyvolane that is both public and private. I think what is important for the northside is more employment opportunities.”
The northside had a heightened sense of community spirit from which other parts of the city could take inspiration as they made the city a better place to live and work, she said.
“The northside has something really special that other parts of the city could benefit from such as a great sense of neighbourhood and community. That’s what we need in this city, a city of neighbourhoods and communities.
"However, one of the biggest pieces is getting employment (in the northside).
Tánaiste Simon Coveney concurred that employment and economic opportunities for the northside were essential if the area was to progress like others in the city.
Tivoli had the potential to be the “Blackrock of the northside”, he said.
“We do see a city extending on the northside. That is why Blarney is in the extended boundary. We see the northside expanding and growing, and not just housing.
The debate has been very much dominated by houses but people are not going to live and work in Cork if it is not a nice city to live in, if they can’t play here.
"I think you’ll see a lot of development on the northside of the city, places like Glanmire growing and expanding and becoming part of the city.
“You’ll see essentially a new urban centre essentially in Tivoli. It will be a bit like the Blackrock of the northside, except with much higher density.
"It’s the economic development that has painted this picture of one benefiting and the other not. With the exception of Apple, we do need to see more job opportunities for the northside of the river,” Mr Coveney said.
Developer Michael O’Flynn said it was a fair question to raise about why the northside had not seen as much development as other areas, because it had “massive potential”.
“The northside has not had development that other areas have had. Ballyvolane is a really good area, while Monard (near Blarney) is a government-designated special development zone. But there is no point in designating something unless you are prepared to make it happen. I think the northside could do with wider population bases, where people could live and work.
“We were building offices in Ballincollig 15 years ago and people said only professional services could go there.
"But people are working and living there now. People could be living and working in Ballyvolane, people should be living and working in Monard.
"Those are two examples with massive potential,” Mr O’Flynn said.